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SPRI Museum - Loans policy

SPRI Museum - Loans policy

March 2008

A. Policy
1. Introduction
2. Principles
3. Guidelines (Outgoing and Incoming Loans)

B. General Conditions for the Borrowing of Museum Objects, Documents, Pictures or Printed Books

C. Standard Conditions of Loan

A. Policy

1. Introduction

This policy covers all loans of objects for exhibition both outgoing from and incoming to the Scott Polar Research Institute ("SPRI") Museum, for any duration. It covers the entire range of loans from single objects or documents to travelling exhibitions of a number of objects. It also includes items placed on loan prior to a purchase, gift or bequest. It does not apply to loans of objects for conservation or study purposes or to the loan of items from a Handling Collection.

2. Principles

2.1 The SPRI Museum makes and receives loans only in exceptional circumstances, but does so for the following reasons:

  • To make the collections more widely accessible, both physically and intellectually.
  • To enhance the reputation of the SPRI Museum and its good standing locally, nationally and internationally.
  • To further knowledge, understanding and scholarship relating to the specimens in its care.
  • To increase co-operation with other museums and galleries by the exchange of material and exhibitions.

2.2 The SPRI Museum will not make any stipulation or request to those to whom it is lending or borrowing that it would itself regard as unreasonable if required of it by any institution from which it was borrowing or lending.

2.3 The SPRI Museum will not make loans in circumstances where this might jeopardise SPRI Museum's title to ownership.

2.4 No photography, filming, microfilming, photocopying, scanning or any other form of electronic copying and or storage of materials lent for exhibition purposes shall take place save with the express consent of the SPRI Museum. Such consent will not normally be granted except for the purposes of making a catalogue or for publicity purposes.

2.5 All costs pertaining to the loan, whether incurred by the borrowing organization or SPRI Museum shall be borne by the borrowing institution. For this purpose and for the avoidance of doubt, all loans shall be fully costed.

2.6 The procedure by which loans, both in and out, are handled is intended to ensure that the Museum acts in a professional and responsible way:

  • agreeing to loan only appropriate objects to appropriate borrowers;
  • minimising all risks and protecting objects whilst out of the Museum's direct control;
  • managing all loan arrangements in a consistent and efficient manner and providing full documentation to support loan activities.

2.7 The Director is responsible for approving all loans, subject to 3.3 below. Responsibility for the day-to-day administration of loans is delegated to the Librarian/Keeper and the Curator who may seek the appropriate specialist advice from relevant conservators. Every request to borrow an object or objects is considered on its own merit and the decision to accept or refuse the request is subject to the guidelines provided below in clause 3.

3. Guidelines

Outgoing loans:

3.1 Borrowers must demonstrate that the specimens they have requested form an important part of their display and that the exhibition itself is coherently thought through and intellectually viable. In deciding whether to lend or borrow, SPRI Museum & Archives staff will also take account of:

  • the absolute importance of the object
  • the structural condition and stability of the object
  • whether specific objects could be obtained elsewhere
  • whether the loan enables objects to be seen in their country of origin and, therefore, increases access for indigenous peoples, subject to a reasonable expectation of the return of the objects to the SPRI Museum
  • whether a significant publication is involved, as this increases access to and interpretation of collections in the longer term
  • the resources available within the SPRI Museum to administer the loan and the notice period (at least 6 months is preferred)
  • key objects which may form part of the Museum's published visitor guides will not normally be considered for loan
  • whether the request would conflict with the SPRI Museum's own display plans or detract from the intellectual coherence of an existing display

3.2 The borrower must agree to comply with the regulations set out in the 'General Conditions' and the 'Loans Out Procedure' and must sign the SPRI Museum's loan agreement.

3.3 If the loan is international and if the total value of the specimens exceeds £30,000, or if the loan is subject to novel and contentious issues, the Director will take the loan request to the next meeting of the Management Committee of the Library, Archives and Museum meeting for approval.

3.4 When considering an international loan, the Management Committee of the Library, Archives and Museum will need to be assured that it can reasonably expect that the objects will be returned to the Museum once the exhibition is over.

3.5 The SPRI Museum does not profit from loans. It does, however, charge parts of the loan costs to borrowers as outlined in the 'General Conditions' document.

3.6 The SPRI Museum will not lend to any exhibition which includes objects where there is any suspicion that they may have been stolen, illegally excavated or illegally exported from their country of origin or any intermediate country, in violation of that country's laws or any national and international treaties, including the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

3.7 The condition of all loan material will be checked on departure and arrival by Collections Conservation and Care staff.

Incoming Loans:

3.8 The SPRI Museum agrees to abide by the lender's conditions.

3.9 The Museum will ensure that all key arrangements are agreed in writing and that each loan is adequately recorded within the Museum's collections management systems.

3.10 The condition of all loan material will be checked on arrival and departure by Collections Conservation and Care staff.

3.11 The Museum will verify the ownership of all incoming loans to ensure that the current owner is legitimately able to lend the items and will apply the same strict ethical criteria to loans as to purchases.

B. General Conditions for the Borrowing of Museum Objects, Documents, Pictures or Printed Books

1. Definition

a. Outward loans involve the temporary physical transfer of material from the Scott Polar Research Institute ("SPRI") Museum collections to another institution, for use in research, education, exhibition, publication, or enhancing access.

b. Loans to individuals are not permitted.

c. Inward loans involve loans to SPRI from other institutions or individuals for the same purposes.

2. Standard Terms and Conditions

a. Loans will be made from any collection only in exceptional circumstances. All requests will be considered against the need to ensure preservation and security of the object, in particular of fragile or irreplaceable items, or of any other pertinent factors.

b. Outward loans are for a fixed term. If they are for a period longer than one year then they will be subject to an annual review. Arrangements for a term longer than a year for display or detailed research programmes will be agreed on specific occasions.

c. All loan documentation will be reviewed regularly and the borrower contacted before the expiry date is reached; particular note will be made of any extensions of loans, any changes in the condition of the loan, and any changes in the condition of the objects. No loan, outward or inward, will be made for an indefinite period or as a 'permanent loan', an expression which has no status in law.

d. Loans inward will be subject to similar conditions to loans outward.

e. Throughout, we shall aim for best practice in all our activities.

3. Practice

a. All loans from ourselves will be fully documented with details of the borrower, the venues, the loan period, and the purpose of the loan, as well as details of the objects or specimens, including Accession numbers, individual lot or specimen item numbers and value. Details will be entered on a loan form, and every loan should also have a condition report, and where appropriate photographs of the objects or document, made at the borrower's expense.

b. The loan form used will be a corporate document, but library, archive, picture library and museum departments may append specific instructions for restrictions and conditions on use and storage of the material as appropriate. Any such instructions must be regarded as part of the loan agreement.

c. Each request for a loan will be submitted in writing. We will ensure that there are written agreements signed by both parties (SPRI and borrowers) in advance of the loan.

d. Loan requests will be assessed and, if necessary, specific conditions agreed prior to dispatch and noted in writing especially where analysis of objects or other detailed study is involved. The various Museums and Galleries Commission reports on the 'Standards in the Museum's Care of Collections' are relevant to these circumstances.

e. The authority for the lending and borrowing of objects and specimens lies with the SPRI Director. The lending of individual objects or specimens with a value in excess of £5,000 requires the approval of the Director (if within the U.K.) or (if overseas) the Management Committee of the Library, Archives and Museum, following advice from the Keeper, Librarian or Curator. Facility Reports, where appropriate, will be required to be provided by the borrower to cover transit, environmental conditions and security issues.

f. In respect of outward loans we will retain the right for a member of staff to courier and/or to be present when material is used for display, photographic or filming purposes. The cost of this will be borne by the borrower.

g. Any loss or damage occurring to an object or document while on loan must be reported to us immediately. No conservation work or other physical intervention will be carried out without express written permission from the Keeper or head of the lending department, nor unless the exact scope of any agreed intervention is (a) clearly defined and agreed in writing beforehand, (b) documented in a manner specified beforehand in writing by the Director.

4. Security

  1. The Museum reserves the right to consult with a Museum Security Adviser before approving a loan.
  2. The object(s) must be exhibited in a secure building.
  3. The following security conditions may apply:
    1. The objects must be under regular surveillance by the Borrower's staff whilst open to the public.
    2. The object(s) must be in an area monitored by an alarm system whilst closed to the public.
    3. The object(s) must be under surveillance by the Borrower's staff 24 hours per day.
    4. The object(s) must be displayed in a locked showcase.
    5. The object(s) must be exhibited behind a barrier and out of reach of the public.
    6. Once installation has taken place, the case(s) must not be opened or the object(s) moved except with the express permission of a designated representative of the Museum of the Scott Polar Research Institute, or in an emergency.

5. Indemnity and Insurance

a. For all outgoing loans the following conditions have to be met:

  1. The borrower will be responsible for and will obtain full indemnity insurance to cover the value of the loan item including transport and transit insurance costs.
  2. The indemnity insurance shall be for the full value of the loan item and shall be made on the basis of valuation, by a certified professional valuer of repute in the industry arranged for and costs paid by the borrower.
  3. iThe valuation must for be for the full period of the loan including transport and transit and must be approved and agreed by the SPRI Museum. Certified copies of the insurance certificate obtained thereto shall be sent to the SPRI Museum at least 14 days in advance of the loan period.
  4. Government indemnity ("GI") may be available to the borrower, but the borrower must arrange this and confirm that and provide SPRI Museum with proof that they have GI in place. The borrower must confirm in writing to SPRI Museum (via its authorised officer) that it will meet the shortfall between GI and the replacement value. The borrower shall provide SPRI Museum with certified copies of all relevant documentation relating to the approved GI.

b. Government indemnity or other insurance for loans made by ourselves is essential in order that we are fully covered for any claims for loss or damage, which we may well be unable to meet from our own resources.

c. Loans to ourselves, either for an exhibition, research or for more general loan, will be indemnified or insured as appropriate before acceptance. This is a separate exercise from the profile of expected indemnity requirements which departments and branches submit to the University each year.

d. We will insure all eligible objects or specimens in the institution's custody, ensure that the insurance period includes times of transit to or from the institution and ensure that the appropriate minimum liability sum is available for payment if required.

e. University of Cambridge requirements do not allow loans to be accepted for an indefinite period. For existing long-term loans of objects or specimens valued in excess of £500,000 any insurance will be reviewed annually in order to reconsider the valuation. Loans of lesser value will be reconsiderd every five years. The valuation of individual objects or specimens offered for loan should be agreed with the owners before the loan is accepted. If prior agreement cannot be reached, reference will be made to an arbitrator appointed by the Institute after reference to both the owner and the borrower.

6. Loans Outward

a. Loans Outward for Research and Education

We will consider loan transactions with museums and other educational institutions in any country. Normally loans will be made to institutions or bona fide research workers with the loan housed in a recognised institution. In exceptional circumstances, loans of material of low commercial and scientific value may be made at the discretion of the Keeper to approved individuals. We will not normally charge a fee for a loan made for non-commercial purposes. We will require that objects or specimens will be insured or indemnified by the receiving institution or individual, and that any damage in transit will be reported immediately on receipt. We will ensure that borrowers confirm their intent and ability to provide an acceptable level of care, security and safekeeping of the objects or specimens, taking into account proper conservation and environmental requirements to avoid infestation or damage. In addition, certain other conditions will also be met:

  • the receiving institution will have a recognised professional member of staff in the appropriate field;
  • the reputation of the professional staff and institution will be of sufficient standing so as to ensure adequate care and security of the objects or specimens while on loan;
  • the objects or specimens will not be put at risk as a result of potential political or economic difficulties;
  • the objects or specimens will not be required for study by staff or students at the University of Cambridge, and not required for display or any other educational purpose during the proposed period;
  • packing and shipping of the loan will not place an unreasonable logistical or financial imposition. Any costs must be borne by the borrower.
  • the specimens will not be so fragile, rare or valuable that the risks in handling and shipping are unacceptable;
  • the institution requesting the loan will honour reciprocal loan requests from ourselves;
  • special permission must be sought, with full justification, before the removal of material for use in molecular studies.
b. Loans Outward for Exhibition and Display

Loans for exhibition and display will be predicated on offering access. Generally, such loans will be to museums, galleries, interpretation centres, town halls, universities, etc. to which the public has ready access. Many of the aforesaid qualifications and criteria for loans outward for research and education also apply to loans for exhibition purposes. However, additional considerations apply to exhibition loans:

  • adequate security for any items on loan will be ensured by the borrowing institution. In the case of travelling exhibitions via Area Museum Councils or other such organisations, all sites will adhere to appropriate environmental control and security as required;
  • loans will not be made where an exhibition involves support or promotion of an ethical position contrary to that held by ourselves;
  • loans for exhibition will normally be agreed for a duration up to one year but may be longer in particular circumstances, at the discretion of the relevant Keeper. For such loans there will be an annual review to establish conservation requirements and continued insurance cover, with costs borne by the borrower;
  • full acknowledgement of the Scott Polar Research Institute will be made by the lending institution, and any text should be agreed by ourselves;
  • a minimum of six months notice is required for any request to borrow material.
c. Loans Outward for Commercial Use

Under particular circumstances, at the discretion of the Director, loans can be made for commercial purposes. We shall continue to investigate the practicality of enhancing this facility. Charges for loan of objects or specimens to commercial outlets, including television companies or publishers will be negotiable based our framework for charges current in the various departments. We will insist that, whenever possible, photography or television work using objects or specimens from the Museum collections is undertaken on Museum property.

7. Loans Inward

a. We will apply the same standards to loans inward as is required of borrowers of our own objects or specimens. All incoming material will be documented to basic minimum standard and a condition report form completed by an appropriately-qualified member of staff, regularly checked and reported upon as requested by the lending body. We will:

  • secure written agreements signed by both borrower and lender before the loan commences;
  • ensure that all loans are for fixed periods;
  • ensure that a written record of the loan is retained;
  • provide insurance or indemnity cover for the loan period;
  • ensure that up-to-date information about the location of borrowed objects or specimens is maintained;
  • ensure that up-to-date information about the security of borrowed objects or specimens is maintained;
  • ensure that up-to-date information about the physical well-being of borrowed objects or specimens is maintained, including the environment and condition of the objects.;
  • ensure that all such loans have a well-established provenance and are in accordance with our ethical stance.

b. In certain circumstances we may wish to acquire the loans-in for the permanent collections. We will follow the standard acquisition procedures as set out in the Policy on Acquisition and Disposal of the Collections. We will take advice from the university's solicitors as to the steps it will take if the original owners of the loan cannot be contacted or are deceased.

c. The maximum term for an incoming loan is 5 years and any agreement is made with the clearly defined intention, discussed with the lender at the time of acquisition:

  • to return the loan at the end of the agreed period
  • or renew the loan for the same period again
  • or to negotiate to acquire the item by donation

8. Disposal of Loans

a. In exceptional circumstances material on loan may present a threat to other material. In such an event we will take all reasonable steps to contact the original lender, or, if that person is deceased, the executors of the estate, in order to determine what action will be taken.

b. If remedial action is required, we will take all reasonable steps to secure written permission for any conservation work that will be undertaken or, in extreme circumstances, the disposal of objects or specimens.

c. Following these procedures, recommendations for disposal of an object or specimen will be forwarded by the Curator to the appropriate SPRI Committee, using the same guidelines as outlined in the Policy on Acquisition and Disposal of the Collections.

C. Standard conditions of loan

Object Care

The borrowing institution (the Borrower) will take the same care for the safe custody of objects lent to the Borrower as is taken for the safe custody of the Borrower's own collection. Once the Borrower is 'in possession' of the object, the security, storage, handling display and preservation of the object will be the responsibility of the Borrower, who will assume responsibility for all aspects of its physical care and seek to ensure its protection against loss, damage or deterioration in accordance with accepted museum practice.

'In possession' refers to the point after the loan agreement has been signed when the object is either collected by the Borrower's staff (or designated carrier) or it has arrived on the Borrower's premises having been delivered by SPRI (the Lender) or another party, to the point when the object is returned (delivered) by the Borrower's staff (or designated carrier) or collected by the Lender or another party, after termination/expiry of the loan agreement.

The term 'Object' refers to any artefact or archival document, or part of artefact or archival document. A full inventory of all objects and parts of objects will be included in the loan agreement.


All objects being lent by SPRI will be fit to travel. A pre-loan condition check will be undertaken either by the Borrower or by SPRI staff. If the object requires conservation, restoration, repair or maintenance, terms shall be agreed separately with the Lender before this agreement is signed. Upon arrival in and departure from the borrowing institution, a full condition check will be undertaken by the Borrower or by appropriate experts nominated by the Borrower.

During the loan period, remedial treatment (except emergency treatment) will not be carried out without written agreement between the Lender and the Borrower describing the nature of the work and which party is to pay for it either wholly or in part. If the Lender does not agree that remedial work should take place, the Borrower shall have the right to return the object to SPRI.

SPRI will become liable to reimburse the Borrower for the full costs of any work preparatory to the display of the object and any conservation work done at the Borrower's expense if the loan is terminated by SPRI prior to the expiry of the loan period.

Environment and handling

SPRI will notify the Borrower of any specific environmental or handling requirements of the object.

Loan period

The nominal term of a loan period is one year, with an option for the renewal of the agreement for a further period on such terms and conditions as shall be agreed between the Lender and the Borrower. Loans for exhibitions may have a shorter loan period, and will be reviewed at the end of the exhibition. All loans are for a fixed period and in both cases, an expiry date for the loan will be agreed and specified on the loan agreement. If either the Lender or the Borrower wishes to terminate the loan before the due date, at least three months notice shall be given.


The Borrower will insure the object, while it is on loan, against 'all risks' for the valuation agreed by both parties. Insurance will commence once the Borrower is 'in possession' of the object. The Lender does not accept liability for any uninsured damage or loss, nor does it accept liability for the deterioration or replacement of perishable objects.

Insurance value

Before the loan agreement is signed, the insurance value of the object must be determined, at the Borrower's expense, by an independent valuer agreed by both parties, whose valuation shall be binding. The Borrower must provide the lender with a letter of indemnity from their insurers no later than one week before the date of collection, stating that they are prepared to extend cover during transit, for the full period of the loan and for the full cost of the valuation. Should it be considered desirable for the value to be revised during the period of the loan, it will be the responsibility of the Lender to commence negotiations to this effect. The insurance value of the object as agreed by both parties is without prejudice to any other valuation of the object that has or may be agreed for any other purpose.

Location of object

The object will be placed at the main site of the borrowing institution, unless agreed in advance with the Lender. The object will not be removed from the Borrower's premises except in an emergency, or with the express written permission of the Lender.


It is assumed that, unless otherwise stated, permission is granted for photography, reproduction and filming of the object by visitors to the Borrowing institution for their own private use, and by the Borrower for security, record, exhibition and publicity purposes.


The Borrower will endeavour to acknowledge the Lender's name in any caption, catalogue, guidebook or other publication.

The form of acknowledgement is as follows:

Lent by The Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge


By giving prior notice, the Lender, plus one guest, will be allowed free access to the Borrower to see the loaned property during the normal working hours of the borrowing institution. All bona fide researchers recommended via the Lender will be allowed free entry to view the objects.


The Lender will notify the Borrower of any change of address. This is particularly important for the return of objects at the expiry or termination of the agreement. The address to which the object will be returned is required (if different from the signed page of the agreement).


The Lender will notify the Borrower of any change of ownership of the object.

If the legal ownership of the object should change during the period of the loan, the new Owner will be required to establish, prior to return, their authority to receive the object by proof satisfactory to the Borrower.

At the end of the loan period, the Borrower will contact SPRI in order to decide on the future of the object. Three months notice will be given by either party if the loan is not to be renewed and the object is to be returned to the Lender.


Loans are accepted by the Borrower on the understanding that the Lender will not enter into negotiations for the sale of all or any part of the object while they are at the Borrower. In the event of such negotiations taking place, the Borrower reserves the right to terminate the loan and return the object to the Lender. The lender will then become liable to reimburse the Borrower for the full costs of any work preparatory to the display of the object and any conservation work done at the Borrower's expense.


In the event of a dispute between the Borrower and the Lender, an arbitrator shall be appointed by agreement, or, in default of agreement, by the President of the Borrowers Association. The decision of the arbitrator shall be accepted by both parties.

Governing Law

This agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and each party agrees to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts as regards any claim or matter arising under this agreement.

The present agreement supersedes and replaces all previous agreements on the object described. The agreement is binding on all heirs, assigns and successors-in-title to the owner of the object.