When you loan your collection: Tips to reduce risk


Take steps to reduce the risk of loss when you loan your collection.


Your collection is your passion. You’ve put your TLC into a unique grouping of objects that tells the story of your specific taste, love of the arts and desire to preserve these items for future generations. When you’re asked to loan a piece or your collection to a museum exhibit, you have the satisfaction of sharing your vision with the world.

Loaning items to a museum or cultural institution carries many benefits, but also creates an additional risk of damage or loss.

To reduce this risk, be sure you get a written loan agreement. Typically, the borrowing museum is responsible for all aspects of the loan and any costs associated with it. This includes insurance. The museum should provide “wall-to-wall” insurance coverage for your items. That is protection from the time the work is taken from your “wall,” during transit, throughout the course of the exhibition and until the work is returned to you. However, you should consult with your local independent insurance agent to make sure proper insurance coverage is in place.

Take the time to research the museum you are considering. Is it in the U.S. or another country? Museum standards here differ greatly from those internationally. The American Alliance of Museums sets the standards for U.S. accreditation while the International Council of Museums sets standards and guidelines for international museums. Make certain the museum you are considering is properly accredited. It is also acceptable to request a facility report from the museum to evaluate its security and protection. If there is more than one venue for the exhibit, get a facility report for each location.

The packing and shipping method for your items also is important. You should confirm the museum’s procedures. If the items are part of a traveling exhibition, obtain details about each individual trip. All specific handling issues should be included in the loan agreement, especially particular instructions you have for installation. Make sure to have a detailed condition report completed before the loan, following each transit, after the exhibition has ended and upon return to you.

Notify your insurance agent of the loan agreement to ensure you have no gaps in your insurance coverage. But most importantly, enjoy the added benefit of sharing a portion of your collection with the public.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.

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