Reply To: Accession Versus Permanent Loan

Laraine Daly Jones

I know of several instances in which “permanent loans” were created, without any opportunity for periodic review of the circumstances. These have developed over time into some unsatisfactory situations and some ill will on one or both sides. In some cases, were the loan to be returned to the owner, the public would be outraged, as they have perceived the object to ‘belong’ to the museum where it has been curated and displayed for years. But I even know a recent instance in which a loan agreement was concluded for a 99 year period! (Needless to say, administrators negotiated this deal, rather than the collections personnel.) I urge Rochelle to avoid long-term loans. Our policy permits one year, renewable loans (if both parties are agreeable). This enables both sides to make reasonable inquiries about condition and to view the object and assess its status. It also provides an annual opportunity to request a conversion to an outright donation. The annual consideration prevents it from getting ‘lost’ in the collections as well. I understand Ron’s premise that occasional exceptions may be necessary, but I recommend you try every existing path to avoid them, as they will create problems for another generation of staff who follow you.