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Use this procedure to manage the loan of all objects you borrow for a fixed period of time and for a specific purpose. Typically, this might include objects borrowed for an exhibition or another extended activity such as a research project. Such loans should always have an end date. At the end date, you either renew the loan for a further fixed period or return the object to its owner. There should be no ‘permanent loans’ in your museum; if there are from years past you should renew them for a fixed period, try to acquire the objects, or return them.
This is a Spectrum primary procedure. UK museums must meet the standard set out below to fulfil the requirements of the Museum Accreditation Scheme.
The Spectrum standard
You must have a policy covering the borrowing of objects. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, you should include answers to these questions:
- Why might you borrow objects?
- What legal and ethical issues will you consider before borrowing objects?
- What is the minimum and maximum length of a loan period?
- Who can authorise loan agreements for you to borrow objects?
- What steps will you take to check the provenance of potential loans?
- How will you deal with borrowed objects if the original lender can no longer be contacted?
You must also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when you borrow objects. Spectrum’s suggested procedure is a useful starting point, and is available as a workflow diagram or as a text file you can edit. However you do it, your own procedure must meet the following minimum requirements:
|Minimum requirement||Why this is important||See (cross-references to be added in final version)|
|You have a written agreement signed by you and the lender before any loan begins, with clear reference to the care standards you will meet and other terms and conditions.||You have a formal record of what was agreed in case any problems arise during the loan.|
|The reason for each loan is clearly stated.||You do not use borrowed objects in a way that goes beyond the purpose agreed with lenders.|
|All loans are for fixed periods.||You can review longer-term loans at regular intervals.
You do not create a future backlog of objects whose ownership status is unclear.
|You have appropriate insurance or indemnity cover for borrowed objects while they are your responsibility (including in transit).||You are able to borrow high-value objects without unacceptable risk.
You do not leave objects without cover while they are being transported.
|You have up-to-date information about the location and physical well-being of borrowed objects at all times during the loan.||You can give lenders data on the environmental conditions in which their objects are displayed.
Borrowed objects do not get mislaid whilst in your care, risking damage to your reputation.
|You keep a written record of all loans.||You can consult the relevant loan file in case a problem with an object becomes apparent after it has left your care.|