Loans Out Policy

1. Introduction

The purpose of this document is to enable Wellcome Collection to be accountable for loans out and to define our processes and standards for lending. It also acts as a guide to borrowers about our loans processes.

The policy covers the loan out of items from both our Core collections and Support collections, apart from under the following circumstances:

a) Items exiting as inter-library loans or under conditions where we maintain responsibility for them (for example, Wellcome Collection organised educational activities, events, conservation, and digitisation). These arrangements are covered by our Object Exit Procedure.

b) The loan out of items from Sir Henry Wellcome’s Museum Collection, which is on long-term loan to the Science Museum. All requests for these items should be directed to the Science Museum, which manages the collection.

c) The loan out of items that are not in our Core or Support collections or belong to the wider Wellcome Trust. Such loans are administered locally by the relevant division and department, although exceptionally we may choose to administer them.

This policy replaces all former loans out policies or practices. Any existing loans out made under previous arrangements will in due course be reviewed and updated in line with this policy.

2. Principles

2.1. Why we lend

Wellcome Collection lends items in order to support its vision to challenge the ways we think and feel about health by connecting science, medicine, life and art. In turn, this supports our objective to extend our impact and reach. Loans out are primarily made on the basis that beneficial public access is given to the items, which is usually through displays and exhibitions. Loans may be made for other purposes in exceptional circumstances, providing they support our vision and objectives.

2.2. Who can borrow

Loans out are made to a variety of institutions both nationally and internationally. This includes museums, galleries, libraries, archives, science centres, and educational institutions. Loans out are not usually made to private individuals.

2.3. What we lend

We will consider the loan out of items from our Core collections (Visual and material culture, Printed and published rare materials, Archives and manuscripts) and selected Support collections (Printed and published reference collection and the Reserve collections only; we do not lend Auxiliary material or Digital reference collection items).  Normally only a maximum of 10 items will be lent per loan, although in exceptional circumstances we may consider lending more.

2.4. Inclusive practice

We will consider access, diversity and inclusion when assessing loan requests and throughout the lending process. Our collections have complex histories and contexts; we aim to take a respectful and inclusive approach to their display and interpretation and encourage our borrowers to do the same. Our inclusive practice aims are outlined in Wellcome Collection’s Strategic Direction for Access, Diversity and Inclusion.

2.5. Human remains

We will consider lending human remains, provided such activities are in line with all legal and regulatory requirements, there is a compelling justification, and the remains will be treated with dignity and respect. Loans will not normally be made of human remains that are subject to a pending claim.  Borrowers will be expected to comply with our Care of Human Remains Policy and follow DCMS Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museum Collections.

2.6. Period of loan

Loans out are always for a set period. This will normally be short term for a minimum of two months, and due to the light-sensitive nature of much of the collection, a maximum of six months. Long-term loans and touring exhibitions will be considered in exceptional circumstances, but any agreement to lend will be based on the suitability of the items and the borrowing venues.

2.7. Notice Period

Loan out requests must be received a minimum of nine months before the exhibition or display opening date, and are subject to approval by our Loans Committee.

2.8. Loan agreement

An agreement will be issued for all approved loans, which will outline the purpose and terms of the loan. Every borrower must sign this agreement before the loan commences.

2.9. Illicit trade

We will not lend to any exhibition or display that appears to include illicitly traded items and specifically contravenes the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting And Preventing the Illicit, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, 1970.

3. Guidance for borrowers

3.1. Preliminary enquiries

Details about our collections can be found on our website. Initial research to identify items can be undertaken by searching the catalogue. Borrowers may also like to supplement their research by using our images page, which contains photographs of many items in our collection.

If further information is required about either items in our collection or the loan process, please contact loans@wellcomecollection.org.

3.2. Formal request

When a loan is initiated by a borrower, a formal request must be sent to the Collections Registrar, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. All requests should contain the following information, and be received at least nine months in advance of the opening date:

  • title of the exhibition/display
  • exhibition/display venue(s) and dates
  • name and full contact details of the organiser
  • a general outline of the exhibition
  • list of items requested with reference numbers (NB the folio/page opening when relevant is essential)
  • reason for inclusion of the items in the exhibition
  • an undertaking to meet all direct costs arising from the loan, which may include conservation, mounting/framing, packing, transport, insurance and couriering.

Your request should also include:

  • A completed and up-to-date Facilities Report for each venue. We normally ask that a venue fills out the UK Registrars' Group Standard Facilities Report, Security Supplement, and Display Case Supplement (if applicable). However, if a similar pre-prepared report already exists, this is normally acceptable.
  • Environmental readings (temperature and relative humidity) for a period equivalent to the loan.

3.3. Loan approval

Once a formal loan request is received, it will be presented at a Loans Committee meeting for a decision, which is made up of staff from Collections and Research, Public Programmes, and Conservation and Collection Care. Approximately four Loans Committee meetings take place a year, which means it may take up to three months for a decision to be made. In considering a request, the Committee will consider how the loan supports our mission and objectives, inclusive practices, the availability and condition of the item, our existing commitments, and the risks involved. Throughout this process we will keep the borrower informed about when we expect a decision to be made.

If a loan request is approved, more detailed discussions will follow about the display methods, packing, transport, couriers, images and reproduction rights, and any other special requirements. If a loan request is declined, the reason will be explained.

3.4. Costs

Wellcome Collection does not charge loan fees. We also do not charge for most conservation work if it can be carried out by our own Conservation Department, for the production of in-house condition reports, for most photography of items, or staff time if this can be managed within existing resources.

All other costs associated with the loan will need to be met by the borrower. These normally include:

  • Mounting, framing and glazing of flat items.
  • Manufacture of cradles or mounts for books and items.
  • Packing and return transportation.
  • Nail-to-nail insurance.
  • All courier costs if required (including travel, accommodation and subsistence).
  • Conservation work completed by external contractors for items that need specialist assessment and treatment. In this instance, the cost of the initial condition assessment and any additional conservation work will be met by the borrower.
  • Photography, if it is beyond that necessary for the loan (e.g. different page openings from those being displayed).

All costs will be communicated to the borrower for their approval before any work is carried out.

3.5. Insurance

The borrower will need to insure all items, based on valuations provided by us, on an ‘agreed value’, ‘all-risks’, ‘nail-to-nail’ basis. A copy of the insurance policy must be sent well in advance of the loan date and a certificate of insurance received prior to the items being dispatched.

We will accept the UK Government Indemnity Scheme in lieu of commercial insurance, and may also be able to accept indemnities offered by other countries, provided a copy of the indemnity is provided well in advance for us to examine the terms.

If the borrower cannot provide adequate insurance or government indemnity, we reserve the right to take out commercial insurance at the borrower’s expense.

3.6. Environmental conditions

All items must be stored and displayed in a suitable environment. The specific environmental requirements of each item will be specified in the loan agreement and these must be adhered to at all times.

Our normal requirements are a relative humidity set between 50% +/- 10% in 24 hours and a temperature of 20°C +/- 2°C in 24 hours, and a maximum of 50 lux for light-sensitive material. However, we will treat each item on a case-by-case basis. We appreciate that some institutions may not have environmental control systems, and in these instances, are happy to work with the borrower to consider alternative ways of ensuring the correct conditions (for example the use of display cases, or buffering material).

3.7. Display methods

If items require framing, cradles or mounts, this will be organised by us and carried out by our approved contractors in consultation with the borrower regarding style, colours, etc.  All costs will be agreed with the borrower first, and will be invoiced on.

If display cases are being used, they will need to meet our display case specifications, details of which will be provided by us. We will also want to know which other institution(s) we will be sharing a case with, and what kind of items will be in there.

Once you have final design layouts and display cases specifications, etc., we will want to see these to ensure we are happy with them and may ask for adjustments if required.

3.8. Packing and transport

All packing and transport must be completed to the specifications outlined by us, and usually arranged by the borrower. Typically, this will require an experienced fine art transport company, which must be approved by us prior to appointment. If packing cases are required these must be constructed as per our instructions (note, packing cases are required for all international loans). We will also want to approve all transport arrangements for the loan, such as routes and overnight stops, in advance.

3.9. Couriers

We reserve the right to send a courier with every loan for both the installation and de-installation, as well as for rotations or page turns if required. However, we recognise that courier costs can be significant to the borrowing institution and will work with borrowers to try and keep these down (for example by sharing couriers for some loans). We will make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

When a courier is required for a loan, the borrower will arrange and pay for transport and hotel accommodation.

When escorting the loan and travelling by air, the courier will fly business class. Please note that it may be necessary to purchase an additional seat in the rare case that we hand-carry the loan.

In addition to covering all transport and accommodation costs, the borrower must provide the courier with a pre-agreed per diem to cover food and sundry expenses, which should be given to the courier in cash immediately upon arrival.

If the courier needs to make their own way to and from the airport, then we ask that the borrower cover the cost of this. This is because taxis or train fares can be expensive and would use up a large portion of a courier’s per diem.

3.10. Arrival, condition checking and installation

On arrival, if items are not to be installed immediately, they must be stored in a secure environmentally controlled space. Particularly sensitive items may need 24 hours to acclimatise, but if this is necessary we will advise of this in advance.

Installation can only take place when the gallery is free from construction, with a minimum of three days allowed for adhesives, paints and varnishes to have dried and off-gassed. Items must not be unpacked until the space is ready for installation. If a courier has accompanied the loan, unpacking must wait until they are present.

A condition report will be sent for each item on loan. If a courier is present they will complete a condition check of the item with the borrower, with any changes noted on the report before signing. If no courier is present the borrowing institution will complete the condition check, but if any changes are noted this must be reported to us immediately. Condition checks must be carried out on a padded table and with suitable lighting.

Items must be installed by experienced technical staff and under the courier’s supervision, if one has been sent. Once each item has been installed, it must not be handled further. Display cases containing items must be closed and locked in the courier’s presence and not opened again without contacting us for approval, unless in an emergency.

This process will be completed in reverse for takedown. Empty packing crates and material must be stored in a secure, waterproof and stable environment, and allowed to re-acclimatise before packing takes place.

3.11. Acknowledgement

Every item lent must be accompanied by the acknowledgement “Wellcome Collection, London”. If additional acknowledgements are required, we will advise the borrower. This extends to use of the item (or images of it) in any publication or media coverage arising from the loan.

3.12. Images, photography and filming

We will provide images of each item lent at no cost to the borrower. If additional images are requested (e.g. different page openings from those being displayed) then there may be a charge for this. All images are provided by our Digital Engagement department. Once contact has been made, the Collections Registrar will put the borrower in contact with the appropriate person.

We are happy for items on loan to be photographed by the public while on display, providing the item does not have copyright restrictions, flash is not used, and the images are for personal non-commercial use. Any other requests for photography or filming must be directed to the Collections Registrar.  Please note that if items are in copyright and we are not the copyright holder, then it will be the borrower’s responsibility to obtain and clear all necessary permissions and rights to reproduce the item.

3.13. During the loan

Borrowers should monitor items and their facilities throughout the loan period to ensure all conditions are adhered to. If any change, loss or damage is noted to an item, facilities vary, or loan conditions cannot be met, the Collections Registrar must be informed immediately. In these circumstances, we may need to undertake a site visit to inspect the items, which would be at the borrower’s expense. In exceptional instances, it may be necessary to recall the items.

3.14. Renewal of loan

Short-term loans of less than one year cannot normally be renewed. Long-term loans can be considered for renewal, providing at least four months’ notice is given before the expiry date. Renewal will be subject to approval by our Loans Committee.

3.15. Cancellation

If a loan needs to be cancelled by the borrower, then we must be notified in writing. Even when a loan has been cancelled for valid reasons and this is before its dispatch date, we may still charge for any costs already incurred, such as framing or mount making.