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Object loans

As a group of National Museums we are committed to providing greater access to our collections, knowledge, expertise and skills through our work with organisations in the UK and internationally.

The Science Museum Group cares for and houses over seven million objects, photographs and archive items that we regularly loan to museums and other institutions in the UK and internationally, allowing more people to access these unique collections.

If you would like to borrow items from our collection, please ensure you can meet the conditions listed below and then complete the loan request form to enable us to process your request.

Complete an object loan request form

Please note that we require a minimum of six months’ notice for loan requests within the UK and nine months’ notice for loans outside of the UK.

Initial conditions

Before a loan request can be received, please ensure that you can meet the following conditions;

1. Insurance

For national loans to museums and non-commercial institutions that pass a security clearance check, you must have adequate commercial insurance for the total agreed minimum liability amount.

For international and commercial loans, you will need to ensure that you have adequate commercial insurance or adequate cover through a suitable National Indemnity Scheme for the items to be loaned.

For loans to other National Museums the Science Museum Group follows the ‘UK Government Indemnity Scheme Guidelines for Nationals’.

2. Display and use

All borrowers must advise the Science Museum Group in advance of the proposed object(s) use and display methods to ensure that these adhere with the our conservation policies. Borrowers will be required to complete a UKRG Facilities Report, Security Supplement and (where applicable) a Display Case Supplement.

Borrowers must take responsibility for any costs associated with any mounting or framing of 2D works and bespoke mounts or stands for 2D or 3D objects. You are also responsible for any costs associated with producing display cases, or barriers for open display objects.

Representatives from the Science Museum Group may, at the borrowers cost, be required to carry out a site visit prior to the loan or to be present for the exhibition installation to allow us to check that the objects are displayed in line with the loan agreement.

3. Standard Charges for borrowers and administration fees

Commercial and international borrowers are charged a loan administration fee which is calculated over the loan preparation period and covers staff time for the planning, documenting and coordinating of the loan.

In addition all loans including loans to UK based non-commercial institutions (eg. museums, galleries, charities) will be charged for conservation (minimum of three hours per object), couriering / inspection visits and any packing undertaken by Science Museum Group staff.

A quote for this will be given on application however we have provided some examples as a guide:

Download examples of loans charges

It is assumed that display preparation (eg. mount making, framing) and packing are not provided by SMG, although this will be overseen by us, and conditions required for these will be stipulated by the SMG Conservation team.

In addition, travel and accommodation for any courier and inspection visits will usually be invoiced directly by the supplier (usually the transport agent) to the borrower, or will need to be organised by the borrower themselves. A daily courier fee is charged to commercial or international borrowers to cover the time that members of staff are away from their main role.

4. Security

All loans from the Science Museum Group must adhere to the security requirements as stated in the loan agreement, which include but are not limited to;

  • The cases to be used to display the object(s)
  • Physical barriers for any open display object(s)
  • Any physical invigilator / security presence
  • CCTV
  • Alarms
  • Police response times
  • Fire safety and equipment

All loan venues must be security cleared by the Arts Council England Security Team before the loan object(s) are released – we are unable to lend without their approval.

5. Conservation and Hazards Management

As stated above, the borrower is charged per hour for the pre-loan conservation of each object to be loaned. This charge includes the preliminary condition assessment(s) and production of the condition report(s) for the loan as well as any conservation required to enable the loan to go ahead.

All borrowers must ensure that any storage areas to be used meet our security and environmental requirements and display cases meet the conditions stipulated in the loan agreement.

Any required hazard assessments need to be paid for by the borrower in advance of the object(s) being agreed for loan.

6. Packing and Transportation

Packing is usually undertaken by the transport agent with the borrower paying for staff time, packing materials, case hire or case construction. Should packing be undertaken by the Science Museum Group, a charge of £30 per hour (VAT excluded) will apply.

Any courier charges will be met by the borrower as per the charges outlined above.

The borrower will arrange for a GIS compliant transport agent to undertake the loan transportation, consulting with the SMG beforehand, and all related costs will be paid by the borrower directly to the supplier.

Download Information for Borrowers for more details about the SMG loans process.