I have quite a bit of experience with the lending and exhibiting of my collection of signed official Major League baseballs from world leaders as part of larger special exhibits.
My collection was exhibited at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2008 and again at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas this past year.
Both institutions are part of the National Archives System and working with their respective staffs was a joy.
Most institutions will provide you with a loan agreement document that will provide the dates of the actual loan of materials and what items are included in the loan.
A separate document will discuss the insurance coverage. You should always request full replacement value (not market value) as some items are not replaceable as in one of a kind items. Most reputable museums are well aware of how to document all these conditions.
I too insist that the insurance is covered from the moment they leave my presence until the moment they return to me. I prefer FedEx as I have never had a problem.
Also - make sure to insist that the lighting in the exhibit area will not adversely affect your items. Once again — professional museums and such know how to protect your items from light, theft, etc.
I also insist that the loaned items are all credited to me in the display cases.
I have found that the curator folks are a great bunch of people and will go out of their way to accommodate you with pictures and such. Additionally they presented me with the actual signs and such about me and my collection.
My name was also listed on all the promotional materials as the lender of these items for the exhibit.
My collection in both exhibits was part of a larger theme... At the Clinton Museum - the main exhibit was on the history of the St Louis Cardinals and at the Ford Museum - it was on the greatest ballplayers of all time.
I was also invited to the opening night receptions at these venues where there were celebrities and such present and they made a really big deal about my lending the collection to them.
After the Clinton exhibition - I received a thank you note from President Clinton (written on a baseball of course).
I am in the midst of working with other similar institutions for related exhibits.
If anyone would like some info on my collection and/or some images from the museum exhibits - please contact me via email. — Randy