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Borrowing from the National Gallery: Loan Conditions (UK)

Conditions of Loan

All loans must comply with our standard conditions of loan. Where we agree a loan each borrowing venue is required to complete a standard National Gallery Loan Agreement which outlines all of our standard conditions of loan concerning safety and security of paintings; indemnity and insurance; packing, couriers and transport of paintings; environmental conditions, photography and reproduction and costs in addition to our general covenants.

Some loans are also conditional on certain additional requirements being met, such as a specific method of display, level of environmental conditions or provision by the borrower of Immunity from Seizure cover.

A summary of our key conditions of loan is available here.  For further information please review our Loans out policy and Risk Management policy [PDF]. Our full conditions of loan are available on request from the Senior Collections Registrar.


The Borrower is responsible for paying all the costs incurred by the Borrower and the National Gallery in connection with the loan of work/s for exhibition or display. 

The National Gallery’s Collection is small in number compared to many similar institutions, but of very high quality, and often extremely fragile. Therefore we insist on a very high quality of care for all loans we make and all loans must comply with our standard conditions. Borrowers should be aware that this can mean costs can sometimes be higher than they may have anticipated.

The Borrower will be asked to meet the costs of:

  • Insurance premiums (for commercial insurance or indemnity deductibles)
  • Preparation of work/s (i.e. framing, glazing and micro-climates)
  • Case hire or case construction
  • Transport, shipping and related costs incurred in transporting works to/from the National Gallery (including any transfers between venues)
  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs of the National Gallery courier
  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs of the National Security Adviser in the event of a visit to inspect the premises
  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs of any National Gallery staff member visiting the venue to inspect the premises or condition of the work/s either in advance or during of the loan (neither visit is usually required)
  • Costs already incurred by the National Gallery in the preparation of work/s for loan in the event of early termination; likewise all costs as above relating to the return of the loan to the National Gallery

We will always endeavour to inform borrowers of any additional costs as early as possible.

Please note that we do not charge borrowers loan or administration fees. Neither do we charge borrowers for staff time, labour, cleaning or conservation needs, packing or packing material (with the exception of packing cases) or preparation of condition reports.

Facilities, Security and Environment

Before any loan is despatched various checks are made on the suitability of the facilities and security at a borrowers premises. These include checks on access routes into the exhibition space, environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, lighting etc.), the physical security of the building and the number and nature of security staff employed. In some cases we may require improvements to be made and where this is not possible the loan may be withdrawn.

We use the services of the UK National Security Adviser (Arts Council England) [External link] to advise us, and upon request in writing or by a visit from the Adviser, the Borrower must provide details of security and fire prevention arrangements at the Borrower’s premises and put in place any additional measures which the Security Advisor recommends. Every loan we make must be approved in advance by the National Security Adviser.

Insurance and Indemnity

Loans to National Institutions (UK)
For loans to other Exchequer-funded national institutions the National Gallery shall bear the risk of a total or partial loss and the national  Borrower shall accept the cost of repairs in the event of reparable damage.

Loans to Non-National Designated Museums (UK)
Where the Borrower is a Designated Museum who has opted for the minimum liability arrangement the National Gallery shall bear the majority of the risk and the Borrower shall meet the cost of loss or damage up to a limit not exceeding £5,000 within its financial year. 

Loans to Non-National Approved Borrowers (UK)
Where the Borrower is a non-national and approved borrower which has opted for the minimum liability the National Gallery shall bear the majority of the risk and the Borrower shall meet the cost of any loss up to £300 where the damage is less than £4,000 or the cost of any loss up to £300 plus 1% of the value of the painting’s total value if the value of the damage is £4,000 or above. A copy of the policy wording must be provided for approval by the National Gallery Registrar well in advance of the transport date; a summary is not acceptable. The National Gallery reserves the right to appoint the insurance broker of its choice.

Loans to Other Borrowers (UK)
Other UK borrowers and all borrowers outside the of UK are required to provide Nail to Nail, Agreed Value and All Risks insurance or government or state indemnity cover for National Gallery loans which should include terrorism in transit cover.

The Borrower must provide a copy of the full indemnity or insurance wording, in English, for approval by the National Gallery Registrar well in advance of the transport date; a summary is not acceptable. Where there is a mix of indemnity and commercial insurance the insurance cover should match as closely as possible the terms of the indemnity. The National Gallery reserves the right to appoint the insurance broker of its choice.

Packing, Couriers and Transportation

All loans from the National Gallery are cased. The National Gallery will organise a high specification museum case for each loan (we usually hire rental cases that are re-fitted for each loan). Packing is done by National Gallery staff prior to despatch to the opening venue and visa-versa at unpacking upon return to the Gallery at the end of the loan period.

All transport must be done via experienced fine art shipping agents using high specification vehicles with employees properly trained in the handling of works of art and in dealing with port procedures, import and export formalities and the like. All shipping methods, routes and shipping agents must be approved in advance by the National Gallery Registrars Department.

We sometimes ask for UK owned and/or National Gallery loans to be split between different shipments for monographic exhibitions or where the combined valuation of loans exceeds a particular threshold.

Loans will be escorted by a National Gallery Courier who is to be present for all movements of the loan, packing and unpacking, installation and de-installation.

Preparation for Loan

The display method proposed by the Borrower to secure the Paintings to the wall or in a display case must be approved in advance by the  National Gallery Registrar, and some pictures will be glazed for loan, or require a physical barrier to be placed in front of them. Wall construction must also be checked and approved.

Some works require special preparation for loan, particularly framing, glazing or provision of micro-climates. Where this is required it will be organised by the National Gallery.

Each loan will have a condition report created, which must be signed off by the National Gallery Courier and the Borrower’s representative at each movement of the work; any changes to the works should be noted on the condition report.

Photography and Reproduction

The Borrower must include the official National Gallery credit line for the paintings, in the exhibition catalogue and related publications. The Borrower should provide the National Gallery with two copies of the exhibition catalogue as soon as it has been published. 

Please contact the National Gallery Picture Library for any requests for photographic material and reproduction rights. High-resolution files can be purchased immediately from the website.

For special quotes or to request/purchase non-standard reproduction rights or material please complete the Reproduction Rights application form. When you complete the form you will need to fill in exactly how the image is to be used and confirm the required DPI of the file and the size (in cm) that the image will be reproduced. 

UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, 1970

In our loan agreement we require all borrowers to “warrant, covenant and agree that it has no reasonable cause to believe that any object comprised in the exhibition in which the Paintings shall be displayed was stolen, illegally exported or illegally imported from its country of origin”.

Cancellation or Early Termination of Loans

The National Gallery reserves the right to recall or cancel any loan in the event of an emergency, or if the Borrower undergoes a change of financial control impacting severely on the performance of the Borrower, or if the Borrower is in default of any obligation under the Loan Agreement, or if the Borrower has not remedied the default to the satisfaction of the National Gallery, or if the default is a fundamental breach of the Agreement.