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  Advice on loaning museums space artifacts

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Author Topic:   Advice on loaning museums space artifacts

Posts: 821
From: Michigan
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 12-17-2012 07:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lately I've been thinking about loaning some of my more significant artifacts to a local aviation/space museum. I know that some cS'ers have done the same in the past and I'm looking for some guidance. My main concerns are:
  1. Term of the loan. Are they typically a 5 or 10 year renewable agreement between the parties?

  2. Insurance. Who provides insurance of the artifacts? The owner or the museum?

  3. Security. What stipulations should be made concerning the artifacts? What protections are to be looked at concerning theft, fire, etc?

  4. Guaranteed display. I've heard about many artifacts that are loaned/donated, but the artifacts are relegated to a back room, never to be seen again. If I am donating an artifact and it is accepted, I sure as heck would want it to be displayed on the main floor.

  5. Attorneys. Are loan agreements typically documented and executed by lawyers?

  6. Right to access. During a long term loan, do you typically stipulate the ability to reacquire an artifact for a short period of time? (For example, show-and-tell at your child's school.)

  7. My demise. Say unfortunately I leave this Earth before I am ready. What is the typical agreement? Do the artifacts transfer back to my family within a short, but reasonable amount of time? Or do they continue their term during the current agreement?
Any and all experience/guidance is much appreciated.


Posts: 52
From: Dallas, Texas, USA
Registered: Oct 2008

posted 12-18-2012 04:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NASAgoob     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great questions and looking forward to responses for best practice. Each museum will have their own policy and I would proceed reaching out to your local museum for their specifics to help you decide. Keep us posted as you continue your research.


Posts: 303
From: Lexington, MA, USA
Registered: Dec 2005

posted 12-18-2012 04:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for freshspot   Click Here to Email freshspot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've loaned parts of my collection to various museums but always for a fixed time as part of a special exhibition.

Assuming your artifacts are desirable, you are in control and can dictate terms.

The things I wanted to complete my loans were:

  • The museum paying for FedEx shipping both ways.
  • Full insurance from the door of my house back to my door of my house.
  • Paperwork describing the loan signed by both parties.
  • Photos of the items on display at the museum.
  • Gift to me of the display placard describing my artifacts once the exhibition concluded.
I don't have experience with long term loans, however the short term ones I have done have been enjoyable.


Posts: 53
From: North Smithfield, RI USA
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 12-18-2012 08:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jutrased   Click Here to Email jutrased     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd be interested to know what museums you have worked with, and how did this come about. Did you contact them, or did they approach you?


Posts: 81
From: Long Island, NY
Registered: Jul 2012

posted 12-18-2012 09:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RLK88   Click Here to Email RLK88     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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


Posts: 1206
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-18-2012 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just be VERY careful when loaning anything to a museum. I've been approached by some military museums in the past for the loan of items in my collection for various exhibits (I collect a very specific area which I'm known for in some circles). I won't name names, but some of the requests I have had have been downright ridiculous. Some have asked for extended long term loans, no access by me, and I was supposed to pay the shipping! A restored B-17 crew once asked for the loan of enough WW2 personal flight gear to outfit the crew in the cockpit and nose for a mid-air photo shoot. Problem was, they didn't specify how I was supposed to get any of it back (and they snickered when I asked how they were going to ship it). Some museums and groups feel they're doing YOU the favor instead of the other way around.

Friends have had some real horror stories along these lines. One loaned some stuff to an aviation museum and the paperwork on their end turned up missing, and after a year the museum staff refused to return anything, saying my friend had faked all his copies of the paperwork. He had to sue the museum at great expense to get his stuff back, expenses he never recovered. He hangs up on museums if they call him now and it's a shame as he has an incredible collection (including some good space stuff).

While I've loaned a few items out a few years ago, if someone asks now, they have to come with a full set of assurances and the outline of some form of contract. Without that, they get a polite version of, "...and don't let the door hit you in the back on the way out."

Remember, it's YOUR stuff and if a museum wants to display it, certain assurances and agreements should be part of the deal. Without that, you shouldn't waste your time.

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