POL-C-036, Version 2.2, March 2015
The National Museum of Australia (the Museum) is a major cultural institution charged with researching, collecting, preserving and exhibiting historical material of the Australian nation.
The Museum focuses on the three interrelated areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, Australia’s history and society since European settlement in 1788 and the interaction of people with the environment.
Established in 1980, the Museum is a publicly funded institution governed as a statutory authority in the Commonwealth Arts portfolio. The Museum’s building on Acton Peninsula, Canberra, opened in March 2001.
This policy applies to the temporary outward movement of material from the Museum’s collections, and the inward movement of material to the Museum’s exhibitions, otherwise referred to as ‘outward loans’ and ‘inward loans’ respectively.
The objectives of this policy are to outline the principles and guidelines that:
- enable the display of objects from the Museum’s collections and other collections to the widest possible audience;
- provide appropriate conditions and controls under which other organisations may borrow historical material for the purposes of exhibition, research and operational use; and
- provide access to the Museum’s collections and borrowed objects while providing protection to the objects, the Museum, lenders and borrowers.
The functions of the Museum are set out in section 6 of the National Museum of Australia Act 1980 (‘the NMA Act’). These include:
6(1)(b) to exhibit, or to make available for exhibition by others, historical material that is in the national historical collection or otherwise in the possession of the Museum;
6(1)(baa) to exhibit material, whether in written form or in any other form, that relates to Australia’s past, present and future; and
6(1)(ba) from time to time as the occasion requires, to exhibit, by itself or in collaboration with others, in Australia or elsewhere, material, whether in written form or in any other form and whether relating to Australia or to a foreign country.
Section 7 of the Act sets out the powers of the Museum to do things in connection with the exercise of its functions, including:
7(2)(a) to purchase or take on hire, or to accept as a gift or on deposit or loan, historical material; and
7(2)(b) to lend or hire out or otherwise deal with historical material.
Delegates can exercise these powers to approve inward and outward loans.
This policy sets out guidelines for the Museum in regard to the inward and outward loans of objects (including historical material).
4. Guidelines for outward loans
Loans will be made only in accordance with this policy, and subject to the terms of the Council delegation. The Delegate may add special conditions to loans as required, provided they are not at variance with these guidelines or the Conditions of loan.
If a Delegate proposes to vary the Conditions of loan the Delegate must consult with the Head Registrar before doing so.
4.2 Loan assessment criteria
The Museum will generally lend objects from its collections to other organisations for the purpose of public exhibition or display by the borrower, provided that:
a) the Museum receives an application for loan in writing twelve months prior to the object(s) leaving the Museum; in special circumstances approval may be given by the Delegate to process loan requests with less notice, however this may incur a late fee of AUD $200 per object;
b) the borrower meets the following loan costs in accordance with any reciprocal arrangements or MOUs: valuations (if required), conservation treatment (if required), object(s) preparation, crating and transport, courier costs;
c) the object(s) requested is in a suitable condition for loan or can be conserved or treated to bring it to a condition suitable for loan;
d) the object(s) requested is available for loan, fully documented and accessioned and its acquisition by the Museum complies with the Museum’s Collections Development Policy;
e) the borrower can provide appropriate insurance, security, environmental and display/storage conditions for the object(s) on loan;
f) the borrower agrees to comply with any specific conservation and security instructions the Museum may impose;
h) any interpretation of the object(s) by the borrower in displays and display material, publications or research is consistent with the aims and objectives of the Museum; and
i) any other requirements specified under the loan agreement can be satisfied by the borrower.
4.3 Loans for other purposes
Under certain circumstances the Museum may lend objects from its collections to organisations for purposes other than public exhibition or display, such as valuation, teaching, conservation or restoration. Such loans will be of the shortest duration possible and subject to the Conditions of loan.
4.4 Loans to private organisations and individuals
a) The Museum will consider loans to private organisations provided the use of the material is consistent with the Museum’s public purpose and responsibility, and the borrower is able to meet the requirements set out in this policy statement and the Conditions of loan.
b) The Museum will not lend to private individuals except with the permission of the Director and only then in accordance with Section 4.2 and the Conditions of loan.
4.5 Loans associated with commercial activities
The Museum may consider loans to shows, fairs, conventions and other commercial ventures as they may serve promotional as well as educational purposes. They may be subject to a loan fee.
4.6 Loans to public corporations
Loans to public corporations may be approved for the purpose of public exhibition or display.
4.7 Loans for travelling exhibitions
Loans for travelling exhibitions will be approved if the Delegate is satisfied that all proposed venues conform to the required minimum standards of security and care and that the proposed method of transport will not expose the objects to damage.
4.8 Third parties
The Museum will not permit borrowers to lend objects borrowed from the Museum to third parties.
4.9 Material not available for loan
The Museum does not lend the following classes of material without the approval of the Director:
a) objects of great fragility;
b) original audio/visual material;
c) human skeletal material;
d) secret/sacred material;
e) objects that are required for display by the Museum over the period of the proposed loan; and
f) objects which are classed as iconic by the National Museum of Australia.
4.10 Maximum loan period
Objects from the Museum’s collection will normally be lent for a period of up to two years, or up to one year for international loans. The loan period may be extended on application subject to the borrower satisfying the Museum that acceptable standards of care are being met.
4.11 Operational use restrictions
The Museum will not lend objects for operational use except with the permission of the Director and only then if the proposed usage accords with the purposes for which the object was originally designed, built or subsequently modified. Objects will not be lent for operational use if such use would lead to the degradation of the object beyond normal wear and tear.
4.12 Specific requirements
The Museum has specific requirements in relation to loans in its loan agreements. These requirements may include:
a) use of couriers;
c) copyright and reproduction;
d) loan documentation;
e) due diligence regarding provenance of objects for loan;
f) consultation with key stakeholders; and
g) managing complaints and/or claims regarding collection objects.
4.13 Costs and charges and reciprocal arrangements
The determination of indirect costs to be passed onto the borrower will be assessed on a case by case basis, taking into account reciprocal arrangements and MOUs, and will, as necessary, refer to the Cost Recovery and Charging for Goods and Services Policy.
5. Guidelines for inward loans
Approval for inward loans will be given only in accordance with this policy and subject to the terms of the Council delegation.
The Delegate must ensure that the terms and conditions of the loan are recorded in a written loan agreement between the lender and the Museum.
Prior to making any changes to the Conditions of loan, or entering into a loan agreement on terms and conditions proposed by the lender, the Delegate must consult with the Head Registrar.
5.2 Loan assessment criteria
The Museum will only borrow objects provided that:
a) The Director has made (or agreed to) a request to borrow the objects, or has agreed to pursue an offer from the lender to lend the objects to the Museum;
b) the Museum is satisfied, based on consultation with the lender and on the Museum’s own due diligence research and verification of the lender’s claims regarding the provenance and chain of title of the objects to be borrowed, that:
i. the lender has authority to lend the objects; and
ii. there are no outstanding or current third-party claims on the object; and
iii. that there is acceptable legal and provenance information available for the Museum to base its decision to proceed with the loan; and
iv. there are no suspicions that the object(s) was obtained through unauthorised or unscientific excavation of archaeological sites, the destruction or defacing of ancient monuments, historic places or buildings, or the theft from individuals, museums or other repositories;
c) it has consulted with relevant stakeholders, in accordance with the Museum’s consultation procedures;
d) the object(s) does not include or comprise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secret/sacred or culturally sensitive material;
e) if the objects are being borrowed from an overseas lender, the additional requirements set out in clause 5.3 of this policy are complied with;
f) the lender agrees to provide a written warranty in the loan agreement that:
i. it is not aware of any matter including third party claims which might prevent or impede the return of the object(s) to the lender; and
ii. it has authority to lend the objects to the Museum; and
g) the Museum is willing and able to comply with the terms and conditions of loan set by the lender.
5.3 Additional criteria for international loans
Where the Museum is considering the loan of objects from an overseas lender in circumstances where Part 2 of the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (PCOL Act) will apply to the objects, the Delegate must be satisfied that:
a) the loan will comply with the requirements of this policy and the Museum’s related procedures for inward loans;
b) the consultation and publication requirements of the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Regulations 2014 (PCOL Regulations) Parts 5 and 6 will be met; and
c) the object(s) can be borrowed without contravening national or international conventions, treaties and laws that control the movement of cultural items and natural heritage.
5.4 Disputes and/or claims
The Museum will endeavour to resolve any disputes regarding inward and outward loans in a timely and cooperative manner. Where the dispute cannot be resolved directly, or through the loan agreements, the Museum’s complaints-handling procedures and the applicable loans procedures for managing claims or disputes will be followed, and the Director will be notified of the dispute.
6. Definition of terms
Whomsoever is delegated by Council under section 7 of the NMA Act to approve outward loans and inward loans of objects, including historical material.
A loan of material from the National Historical Collection or of other material owned by or in the custody of the Museum to another institution, generally for the purpose of public exhibition.
A loan of material from a private lender or another institution generally for the purpose of public exhibition.
Conditions of loan
The standard conditions of loan are set out in the Museum’s template agreements for inward and outward loans, which are maintained by the Head Registrar.
The procedures for assessing and approving inward and outward loans are set out in the Museum’s ‘Door to Store’ manual.
7. Definition of responsibilities
Council delegates some of its powers under the NMA Act to specified Museum officers. The Museum’s Financial delegations instrument sets out the Council’s delegation of its powers in section 7 of the NMA Act for the approval of inward and outward loans.
The Director has the discretion to approve or decline requests for inward and outward loans of objects, in accordance with the Council delegations.
Assistant Director, Collections, Content and Exhibitions
Has authority from Council to approve inward and outward loans, in accordance with the Council delegations.
Head Registrar, Registration
Has authority from Council to approve inward and outward loans, in accordance with the Council delegations.
RA Buck and JA Gilmore (eds), The New Registration Methods, American Association of Museums, Washington, 1998
Conditions of loan, National Museum of Australia
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), 1975
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act 1986
Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, 1970
The Australian Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013
Australian Best Practice Guide to Collecting Cultural Material
This policy will be implemented in accordance with the related Loans procedures, or as approved by the Director from time to time.
The outward loan of objects from the Museum’s collections and the inward loan of material from private or institutional collections.
9.2 Other related policies
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secret/sacred and private material policy
- Cost recovery and charging for goods and services policy
- Indigenous cultural rights and engagement policy
- Collections development policy
- Collections – return of cultural objects policy
- ‘Door to Store’ manual
Outward loan of material from the Education Collection and non collection material.
9.4 Superseded policies
This policy supersedes:
|Former policy/ies title||Version no.||Version date||Council approval date|
Outward loan of historical material policy
Collections – outward loan of historical material
24 May 2006
Collections – outward loan of historical material policy
14 April 2011
This policy will be reviewed in March 2018.
Executive approval date
|Council approval date||March 2015|
Public & all staff
Loan, historical material, National Historical Collection
Head Registrar, Registration
Outward loan of historical material policy approved by Council, May 1995
Collections – outward loan of historical material, version 2.0 approved by Council, May 2006
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Secret/Sacred and Private Material policy
Indigenous cultural rights and engagement policy
Collections development policy
Collections – return of cultural objects policy
‘Door to Store 2’, Chapter 16 – Loan
Conditions of Loan
Cost recovery and charging for goods and services policy
National Museum of Australia
GPO Box 1901
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6208 5000
Approved by Council March 2015
Approved by Executive February 2015