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Exhibition and display loans policy

Date updated: 18/05/2022


London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) aims to provide as wide an access to its holdings as possible and therefore welcomes applications from other institutions, both in the United Kingdom and further afield, to borrow items from its collections for exhibition. The Exhibition and Display Loans policy aims to balance LMA’s desire to reach a wider audience through external displays and exhibitions with responsibility for the physical integrity and security of the items within its care while they are on loan.

The policy outlines LMA’s standard external exhibition and display loans conditions and is a guide to making requests for loans of items in its care for external exhibition and display. It does not relate to the temporary withdrawal of deposited collections by their owners.

To make a loan request please submit a completed LMA Display Loan Request Form (available from our enquiry service) and United Kingdom Registrars’ Group (UKRG) Standard Facilities Report. 

These, submitted as pdfs, should be sent together with a formal letter of request addressed to Charlotte Scott, Assistant Director Collections, London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HB. Electronic communication is preferred, sent via the LMA Enquiry Team for the attention of Charlotte Scott, but hard copy is acceptable.

The signed LMA Display Loan Request Form acts as a loan agreement so borrowers are advised to read this Exhibition and Display Loans Policy carefully before submitting the loan request. Failure to abide by the conditions of this Policy will jeopardise the loan.

LMA usually require six months’ notice before the loan is to take place. For more than 15 items requested for display, eight months' notice is required. This is so that the necessary evaluation, paperwork and any conservation treatments can be fitted into LMA work schedules. A formal request must be made for each exhibition. We do not encourage displaying one item at various venues within a touring exhibition. Instead we encourage borrowers to identify a different item for each venue for which a separate request must be made.

Some of the items in our care belong to the City of London Corporation, but many do not and in these cases it may be necessary to obtain written permission from the owner before the items can be borrowed. NB. All information about donors and depositors held by LMA is confidential, access to this information is at LMA’s discretion and requires permission of both.

LMA must be informed immediately if any changes are made or proposed to be made to the agreed loan arrangements.

LMA reserves the right to refuse to lend items, to withdraw items from an agreed loan list, or to recall items on loan at any time, without being required to provide a reason for such actions.

If you wish to discuss a possible loan request in person please contact our enquiry service.


The borrower must insure the items for the full duration of the loan insurance on an 'all risks basis, values agreed' policy and on a 'nail to nail' basis using valuations supplied in advance by LMA. A valid certificate of insurance or a certificate of Government Indemnity must be provided at least two weeks prior to the loan being dispatched from our premises.

No item can leave LMA without current, valid insurance documentation.


Borrowers are required to supply details of security and fire precaution arrangements as part of their Facilities Report. Arrangements must be to the satisfaction of LMA and should include the following:

  • Venues should be fitted with adequate fire detection/prevention and intruder alarm systems
  • The building and exhibition/display areas should be physically supervised when open to the public. nb A 24 hour presence will be required for the duration of a loan of high value
  • Framed items are supplied with mirror plates unless agreed otherwise. They must be securely fitted to a wall or to screens which are robust and securely fixed to the gallery walls. The details of the wall to which the items are to be fixed must be provided. Other items must be enclosed in a locked display case. Construction details of the display case must be provided
  • Items in store awaiting display, or items lent for study purposes, should be kept in an area which can meet the same security and environmental conditions outlined within this policy. Any theft or breach of security should immediately be reported to LMA, even if LMA items are not directly affected
  • LMA expects the borrower to have a Disaster Response Plan appropriate to the venue and type of material. LMA must be immediately informed of any incident. Any salvage action on an LMA item carried out during an emergency should conform to best practice conservation standards
  • LMA retains the right to inspect the borrowing institution’s exhibition and display facilities and conditions prior to and at any time during the loan period

Costs and liability 

The borrower will be responsible for the costs of the loan, without limit, for insurance cover, framing, display supports, conservation work, photography, art-handling packaging and transport, and couriers’ and inspectors’ transport and subsistence expenses. Treatment and framing charges will be supplied on application

The borrower is under no liability for the loss of, or damage to, the object arising or flowing from:

  • War, hostilities or war-like operations, but excluding acts of terrorism, riot, civil commotion, piracy and hijacking
  • The negligence or other wrongful act of the owner, his servants or agents
  • The condition (including inherent vice or a pre-existing flaw) of the object at the time of its loan

Changes and cancellation 

If the loan details change at any point, borrowers should let LMA know as soon as possible. If a borrower cancels a loan, LMA will charge for staff time and material costs incurred.


  • The borrower must inform LMA of the exact location of each item in the exhibition gallery before the installation. Case elevations and gallery plans should be submitted for approval. All the display methods suggested by the borrower must be approved in advance with LMA
  • All pictures are prepared by LMA in conservation standard window mounts and glazed frames. LMA conservation staff will specify the supports required for displaying all other items. Frames should be attached on solid walls or be at least 18 mm thick. Very valuable framed items will require an alarm device or extra security which will be agreed with LMA
  • The borrower’s cases must be lockable by a minimum of two locks and be dust proof. The glazing should be fitted with anti-bandit laminated glazing; the glazing will be at least 11.3mm thick. The cases should be fitted with an alarm device. All the material used inside the cases must be tested and not off-gas.
  • The borrower must notify LMA if the items borrowed from LMA will share the cases with other lenders and clarify the nature of the other items before installation
  • Except for packaging, inspection and installation, the items must not be moved without prior written permission from LMA except in an emergency. In this event, LMA must be informed immediately
  • The display cases in which LMA items are displayed must not be opened without prior permission from LMA and this must take place under the supervision of an LMA conservator
  • Items must not be sited near ventilation ducts, draughts, or sources of heat
  • LMA must agree to all the methods and materials used in the display
  • If the exhibition or display area is to be used for functions, this must be agreed with LMA in advance. There must be no eating or drinking or smoking in the area at any time

Environmental conditions 

All items should be stored or displayed in a stable environment. The standards required are listed below.

  • Relative Humidity (RH): a stable RH between 50-60% with fluctuations of no more than +/-5% within a 24 hour period. Conditions should be maintained 95% of the time
  • Temperature: a stable temperature between 18-21°C with no more than 2°C variation with 24 hours. Conditions should be maintained 95% of the time
  • Light: maximum levels will vary depending on the sensitivity of the media, but in general for light sensitive items the maximum light level is 50 lux and ultraviolet light level 75 microwatts per lumen, 200 lux for less sensitive items with the agreement of LMA conservation staff

Where possible, light levels should be minimised outside working hours, LMA may ask for data relating to cumulative light exposure measurements.

  • All heat emitting light sources should be mounted outside the cases
  • Items must not be displayed in direct sunlight, or close to heating or air conditioning vents, other sources of heat, strong air currents, vapour or light
  • Items must be protected from filming or photography lighting

To ensure that these specifications can be met, LMA requires access to environmental monitoring data for the same period and area of display from the preceding year, for a period before the loan, and for the duration of the exhibition. LMA would be happy to discuss the details of these environmental requirements.

Some items require specific environmental conditions and LMA will inform the borrower of the necessary requirements for their display.

Condition checking 

Any changes in condition or damage must be reported to LMA immediately.

Condition reports will be prepared by the conservation staff at LMA for each borrowed item and will travel with the loan. Condition checking will occur as described below.

As soon as possible after receiving and unpacking each loaned item, the borrower (and courier if appropriate) must compare the condition of the item to that recorded on the LMA Display Loan Condition Report in order to confirm the report or to record any changes that might have occurred during storage and transport.

Prior to the loan’s return the borrower (and courier if appropriate) must make a final condition inspection of each loaned item just before it is prepared for transport. This is to be confirmed on the LMA Display Loan Condition Form and any noticeable changes in the item’s physical condition recorded and reported to LMA immediately. The report must be returned with the loaned items at the end of the loan.

LMA may consider it necessary for condition monitoring inspections to be carried out by the borrowing institution at regular, specified intervals during the period of the loan and noted on the LMA Display Loan Condition Form.

Conservation and handling 

Where conservation work is required this will be carried out by LMA conservation staff. LMA may require the borrower to bear the cost of labour and materials. This will be agreed in advance of treatment and an estimate provided for the work.

Items should only be handled by authorised personnel, unless in an emergency. The items must not be cleaned or conserved by the borrower without written permission from LMA. Identifying markings must not be moved, removed or added. No marks in pencil, ink, paint or any other material should be made on the item.

Framed items must not be opened or altered without written permission from LMA.

Packing and transport 

Requirements for transport, storage and art handling will vary and should be made on a case-by-case basis and agreed with LMA well in advance of the loan.

Delivery and installation will take place close to the exhibition opening.

All transport must be carried out by a recognised art fine shipping agent using active environmental conditioned vehicles and trained staff in handling cultural heritage documents. 

The fine art transport agent in charge of the transport of the items must be agreed with LMA.

Transport will be by the most direct route and adhere to the minimum requirements set out by LMA.

Conservation staff at LMA will specify the packing requirements on a case-by-case basis also. LMA must be informed immediately if any changes are made or proposed to be made to the agreed transport, storage and handling arrangements.

LMA may require some material to stand for 24 hours in the area where it is to be displayed before its packaging is opened. This allows the items to gently reach equilibrium within the ambient environment.

All packing materials must be retained and used for repackaging for the item’s return to LMA.

Couriering and custom inspections 

Depending on the complexity, importance and value of the loan, LMA may require a member of staff to courier the loan ie to escort it in transit, and supervise its unpacking, condition checking and installation. As a representative of LMA, the courier has the authority to withdraw the loan at any time if agreed conditions and arrangements have not been met.

All couriering expenses will be met by the borrower. It is the borrower’s responsibility to arrange all customs formalities for international loans (although usually the transport agent, acting as a customs clearance agent, will make the arrangements). Customs inspections should take place at LMA prior to the loan being dispatched or on arrival at the borrowing institution. The item must not be unpacked for inspection on route. If this occurs LMA must be notified immediately.

Returning loaned items 

No less than three weeks prior to the close of the exhibition, the borrower must contact LMA in order to confirm delivery arrangements.

Notifying LMA of exhibition attendance figures 

Within a month of the close of the exhibition, the borrower should send LMA

  1. The final attendance figures for the exhibition and,
  2. An estimate of LMA’s contribution to the exhibition expressed as a percentage

LMA is required to supply figures for our presence in external exhibitions annually to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) which collates annual statistics for local authority archive services.

Photographs or other reproductions 

Photographs or other reproductions of the loaned item(s) must not be published in any format, including use on a website or in other digital media, in an exhibition, presentation, broadcast, or for any commercial purpose, or for record or research purposes, or for private study or any other purpose whatsoever by the borrowing institution or any other parties without the prior written permission of LMA. In addition it may be necessary to request permission from the owner of the records.

Credits and acknowledgements 

The lender and, if required, the owner of the loaned item is to be credited or acknowledged on all captions and in all publications in any format related to the exhibition where the loaned item is mentioned. The credit for LMA must read: 

London Metropolitan Archives, City of London Corporation

Photographs of items on loan may be reproduced in the catalogue without charge, but with written permission. Images can be provided by LMA on request and will be charged for (a price list is available from LMA).

LMA should be supplied with one copy of any publication associated with the exhibition which refers to, or contains images of, items loaned to the exhibition by LMA.

Facsimile service 

If you are unable to comply fully with the conditions set out, please contact us via our enquiry service so that we can make an evaluation of your application. This will be based on the nature of the items being requested. If LMA is unable to authorise the loan of original items, we can usually offer good quality facsimile copies which will be charged for. This service can also be used to supplement your display.


Please complete a comment form or contact the LMA Enquiry team if you wish to give feedback on this policy.

This policy will be reviewed at least every two years to make sure it remains timely and relevant.

The policy was last reviewed in February 2020.

Exhibition Loan Request Form and Loan Agreement form
Date submitted: 28/03/22