About the Collection
Works of art
loan guidelines

The Council of the National Gallery of Australia (the Gallery) supports an active program of loans from its collection.

The Gallery balances the work involved in these loans with its own program of exhibitions and gallery displays. Likewise, the benefit of increased public access to works of art must be offset against the Gallery’s programs and the costs of packing, transportation, handling, installation and exhibition. Loan requests are subject to a formal approval procedure.

This document explains how to apply to borrow works of art, the approval procedure, and the conditions which a borrower will be expected to meet in order for the loan to proceed.

Related forms

Preliminary enquiries
Curatorial staff are always happy to advise about the selection and general availability of works for loan. The Gallery welcomes early discussions and, where possible, an actual visit to view any works under consideration. Preliminary research about a loan should be carried out well in advance so that the formal request can be made in time.

Formal request
A request to borrow works of art from the Gallery’s collection must be in the form of a letter addressed in the first instance to the Director of the Gallery who will refer the request to the relevant department. The borrower should make a clear case for the importance, contribution and relevance of the exhibition to art historical knowledge and why the works are wanted. Subsequent correspondence will normally be with the Gallery’s registration staff.

Formal request for loans should include the following:

  • title of the exhibition (working title)
  • exhibition venues and dates
  • name, address, telephone and fax number of the exhibition organiser
  • name, address, telephone and fax number for person responsible for the exhibition at each venue
  • scope of the exhibition
  • list of works requested quoting Gallery accession numbers where possible (these can be obtained from the Gallery’s web site www.hbgync.com)
  • reasons for inclusion of the Gallery’s works of art

Any subsequent changes to these details must be confirmed in writing. Please note that, in the event of a work of art is originally requested and then no longer required by the borrower, the Gallery will not consider a substitution within the framework of the initial application.

After receiving a formal request, the Gallery's approval procedure for loans involves discussions between conservation, registration and curatorial staff. In principle, all loan requests should be made 12 months in advance of the loan period. This is to allow sufficient time for the request to be fully considered, any necessary conservation treatment and preparation to be carried out, security and environmental checks, as well as accommodating other loan commitments and the Gallery’s own needs. Changes to or additions to the venues will not normally be considered after the request has been received.

Approvals procedure
All requests are considered on merit and contribution to art historical knowledge. Curatorial staff will identify whether the work is available for loan, consider its relevance to the exhibition, note whether it is already committed to another borrower, or whether it is central to a display in the Gallery. A curator and conservator will check each work to decide if it is suitable for loan. Works on paper are generally only available for loans of three months. Gallery conservation, curatorial and registration staff will also check that the administration and preparation of the loan can be scheduled into the other work of the Gallery.

All borrowers are required to complete a Gallery Standard Facilities Report form. Gallery staff will assesses this information.

The Loan Agreement – responsibilities of the borrower
If the work of art is assessed by the Gallery as suitable for loan, registration staff will prepare a formal loan agreement setting out the responsibilities of the borrower in connection with the loan. The standards that must be met are strict and meet the requirements of the Gallery Council, which ultimately accepts the risk of loss or damage to the collection. Any delay by the borrower must be discussed as early as possible because the loan cannot proceed until a copy of the Gallery loan agreement has been signed and returned to the Registrar. The signatory on behalf of the borrower must be authorised in appropriate documentation by the borrower to sign the Gallery loan agreement.

The loan agreement will be written in English and this text must not be altered.

Costs covered by the borrower
At the end of the loan period, the borrower will be invoiced for the actual cost incurred by the Gallery in respect of the following:

  • conservation preparation (when this is required to protect the work in transit/display)
  • packing and crating for shipment to borrower and for return to the Gallery
  • transport
  • photography (hire and reproduction where applicable)
  • forwarding agents fees
  • courier travel fares, accommodation and subsistence
  • insurance during transportation and while with the borrower
  • Australian Quarantine Inspection Service fee (where applicable)
  • inspection of long term loans by Gallery staff or approved agent

Borrowers will also be charged if installation by Gallery staff has been made a condition of the loan and they are required to work beyond their normal working hours at the borrower’s venue.

Since loan costs can often form a large part of the exhibition budget, borrowers must ensure that they have been costed. The Gallery will always endeavour to inform borrowers of any additional costs as early as possible.

Insurance – domestic loans
Where the Gallery is satisfied that all the conditions of loan will be met and the venue is approved, the Gallery will require the borrower to insure the work with Comcover, at the borrower’s expense. Comcover is the Australian government insurance agency that is contracted to provide insurance to the Gallery. Where the Gallery agrees to use the borrower’s insurance, works from the collection cannot be released without written proof of adequate insurance cover. In the case of a borrower operating a touring exhibition, a single policy must usually cover all journeys and exhibition venues.

Insurance – international loans
The Gallery may be prepared to accept indemnity offered by the borrower’s government, provided that a copy of the indemnity and certificate of currency is deposited with the Registrar at least six weeks before the works are to be collected. Otherwise, the Gallery will insure the works with Comcover, and the borrower will be expected to pay the premium. Works from the collection cannot be released without proof of adequate insurance cover. In the case of a touring exhibition, a single policy must usually cover all journeys and exhibition venues.

Valuations for works requested for loan will be supplied by the Gallery after a formal request but prior to approval of the loan. The Gallery reserves the right to re-value of any works at any time, to take into account changes in the market value of works of art.

For loans within Australia, the Gallery will arrange transport at the borrower’s expense. In the case of international exhibitions, the Gallery will nominate its preferred forwarding agent and the agent will meet and escort all shipments and couriers on arrival, at departure and during any transfers and arrange customs’ clearance.

If the borrower proposes new or unknown companies, they will be assessed before being endorsed for use. The Gallery reserves the right to veto any companies which do not comply with its conditions for the transportation of works of art.

Customs formalities for the return of international loans are the responsibility of the borrower and must be agreed to by the Gallery. Loaned works must not be unpacked for customs inspection en route. In the event of a work being unpacked by customs whilst in transit, the Gallery must be informed immediately.

Cancellation of loans
The Gallery recognises that a borrower may cancel a loan. It reserves the right to charge the borrower for any conservation and other costs which may have been incurred to that point and any costs consequent from the cancellation.

All works of art leaving the Gallery for loan will be prepared by Gallery staff prior to departure. All crates will be commissioned by the Gallery and built to Gallery specifications, at the borrower’s expense. Gallery staff will carry out the initial packing and preparation of the work.

During the approval process, the Gallery will decide whether the complexity of transport arrangements or the value or fragility of the works require that one or more Gallery staff accompany the loan in transit and oversee condition checking and installation/de-installation at the venue.

The courier is the official representative of the Gallery and has the authority to withdraw items from display where the stipulated requirements have not been met, whether for reasons of security or conservation.

Where a courier is required, the venue will be responsible for airfares (business class when accompanying works of art outside Australia) and the cost of accommodation and subsistence in a single room in a hotel near to the venue. The length of stay for international loans is a minimum of three days and depends on the complexity of installation, and any additional time that may be required to allow sensitive works to acclimatise up to 48 hours after arrival before being unpacked and installed.

The borrower or his agent must provide an agreed level of subsistence to the courier as soon as they arrive. The subsistence must cover meals, travel costs and other reasonable expenses.

Environmental conditions – light levels and climate
The Work must be displayed at a temperature between 20 +/- 2° C and relative humidity of 50 +/- 5% with no more than 3% change in relative humidity in one hour unless otherwise agreed in writing by the National Gallery of Australia.

Maximum light levels

  • 300 lux: Inorganic objects
  • 200 lux: Paintings, organic objects
  • 150 lux: Durable plastics
  • 50 lux: Works on paper, textiles, photographic prints, bark paintings, ethnographic objects, basketry, light sensitive plastics

The maximum UV content of the light must be controlled to less than 75microWatts per Lumen.

General transport conditions which apply to loans from the National Gallery of Australia
Any transport company used to move works of art must be approved by the National Gallery of Australia.


All loan requests should be addressed to the Director in the first instance:

National Gallery of Australia
GPO Box 1150

Subsequent correspondence should be addressed to the member of the Registrars Department administering the loan, or:

The Registrar of Collections
National Gallery of Australia
GPO Box 1150
[email protected]

Photographic material and copyright
All queries relating to copyright, reproduction rights, fees, photographs, transparencies and slides:

Rights and Permissions Officer
National Gallery of Australia
GPO Box 1150
[email protected]

Travelling exhibitions
If interested in a National Gallery of Australia Travelling Exhibition, contact the Manager of Travelling Exhibitions:

Manager Travelling Exhibitions
National Gallery of Australia
GPO Box 1150
[email protected]

Contact details
National Gallery of Australia
[email protected]
[email protected]