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Loans out books



Loans out books



Archive reference number



12 bound volumes recordings details of all loans of pictures from the National Gallery, 1850-1994, including within the UK, overseas and as part of the National Gallery loan scheme, administered by the Arts Council. Details recorded include: inventory number and subject of painting, artist, dates of loan, name of institution lent to, insurance value, title of exhibition lent to and condition of picture.

Record type


Administrative history

The National Gallery began loaning works from its collection in the 1850s. The Gallery's authority to do so was formalised in the Treasury Minute reconstituting the Establishment of the National Gallery of 27 Mar 1855, which permitted the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery to loan works of art to provincial collections provided a report of their reasons for doing so was made to the Lords of the Treasury and their sanction obtained. In 1883 the National Gallery Loan Act extended the Gallery's authority to loan pictures without recourse to the Treasury: a work of art could be lent to any public gallery in the United Kingdom provided it had been in the Gallery for fifteen years, or twenty-five years in the case of gifts or bequests subject to special conditions.

In 1935 the National Gallery Overseas Loan Act enabled the Gallery to lend pictures by British artists overseas, provided they had been in the collection for fifteen years, or if subject to special conditions, given/bequeathed to the Gallery prior to 1900. In 1954 the National Gallery and Tate Gallery Act permitted any work of art to be lent in the UK or abroad provided it had been in the collection for fifteen years, or twenty-five years in the case of gifts/bequest subjects to particular conditions. Loans of works created prior to 1700 had to be sanctioned by Government.

The Museums and Galleries Act 1992 gave the Gallery powers to lend any work regardless of date of creation. Where the work was subject to a condition or trust, fifty years had to elapse since before a loan could be made, unless the donor gave their permission to the loan. If the work was not subject to such a condition of trust, it could be loaned at any time following acquisition.

All loan requests are presented to the Board for approval, subject to the recommendations of curators and conservators.

From 1850 the National Gallery kept loans out books recording details of all such loans from the collection. Following the introduction of a collections database in 1991 loan information began to be recorded electronically and by 1994 the loans out books had fallen into abeyance. After 2000 information regarding loans has been entered into the TMS database system

Custodial history

The registers were created by the National Gallery and are now held in the Gallery's Archive.

Related material

NG1 Board Minutes NG5, 6 and 7 Letters to and from Gallery re loans NG18 Loans to the Gallery NG16/144 re National Gallery loan scheme to provincial galleries, 1949-1951

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