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Borrowing from our collections

National Museums Scotland welcomes loan requests, and is committed to providing the best possible physical and intellectual access to all our collections and expertise throughout Scotland and the UK, and around the world.

As Scotland’s national museum we engage across the nation and around the world, ensuring our collections, expertise and programmes make wide-reaching impacts beyond the walls of our museums.

National Museums Scotland’s outgoing loans programme is an essential part of opening up the collections to new audiences. Many objects from the collection are on long-term loan to venues throughout the UK and overseas. Many objects are also made available for short-term loans every year.

Loan request process

You can also download this information as a pdf. If you require any further information, please contact our Registrar team at

Lending policy

Our policy on lending and borrowing is set out in our Collection Information and Access Policy.

Requests to borrow

Formal requests to borrow from the collections should be made using our online loans request form or in writing to the Director.

Formal requests should include the following information:

Tell us what you'd like to borrow and why

  • Object(s) requested for loan
    List these including where possible, National Museums Scotland accession numbers.
  • An overview of your exhibition or project
    Please include the dates and title of your exhibition; name and full contact details of the exhibition/project organiser and venue(s); scope of your exhibition project including any publications, associated learning activities, events, plans to tour.
  • Why you would like to include object(s) from our collections
    Tell us why our object(s) are important to the success of the exhibition or project?

Tell us about your venue and facilities

Where available, you should submit the following completed documentation with your loan request: UKRG Facilities Report [PDF], UKRG Security Supplement [PDF], UKRG Display Case Supplement and continuous environmental readings for the same period as the loan in the previous year. The AAM Standard Facilities Report [PDF] is also acceptable in place of the above documents.

These documents are useful but not essential at point of loan request. If your loan request proceeds, our Registrar team will liaise with you to gather all necessary information about your venue and facilities to enable a full assessment. The more information you provide at the loan request stage, the easier it will be to progress the loan.

Tell us about your lending history

If you have borrowed from us or from another UK National Museum within the last five years, tell us about it including details of the loan object(s), the exhibition or project and the loan period.

Need help selecting objects?

If you are not sure which objects you would like to borrow, you can seek advice from our curatorial departments. Contact details can be found on our website. Departmental Administrators can put you in touch with the relevant Curator.

You can also use the Search Our Collections tool on our website to view a selection of objects from the collections.

Informal discussions relating to loans and object selection take place in advance of the formal loan request submission.


The following notice periods allow for a process of assessment to ascertain if the object(s) requested to loan and the venue are suitable and for the necessary object preparation and loan arrangements to take place.

UK venues

If you have borrowed from us within the past three years, we require a six-month notice period. Please submit your formal loan request six months before the proposed loan start date.

If you have not borrowed from us within the past three years, we require a nine-month notice period. Please submit your formal loan request nine-months before the proposed loan start date.

International venues

For all international requests, a 12-month notice period is preferred. Please submit your formal loan request twelve months before the proposed loan start date.

Decision-making process

The loan request decision-making process is coordinated by our Registrar team. When a loan request is received, the Registrar arranges for it to be considered by the National Museums Scotland Collections Committee chaired by the Director of Collections. The Committee meets eleven times a year and approves or declines a loan based on the criteria outlined below:

  • Request received with appropriate lead-in time
  • Availability of object(s) requested e.g. not required for an exhibition or display at National Museums Scotland, not agreed for loan to another venue
  • Physical condition of the loan object(s) and their suitability for loan
  • Availability of National Museums Scotland resources to facilitate the loan
  • Suitability of the borrowing venue, including the borrower’s ability to meet our standards and requirements
  • Status and relevance of the object to the exhibition or project theme and content
  • Public access to the objects during the loan period
  • The potential of knowledge generation and legacy.

The Registrar will notify you of the Committee’s decision. If the request is approved, it is conditional on the borrower’s willingness and capacity to meet our loan conditions.

Security, environmental and display

National Museums Scotland principally lends collections in line with the UK Government Indemnity Scheme Guidelines for National Institutions. Part 6 of this document from the Arts Council outlines the safest methods to transport and display objects from national collections.

All loans from our collections must adhere to our security, display and environmental requirements, as well as any object specific requirements, as stated in the loan agreement. Our Registrar team can provide further information on these requirements.

All loan venues will be assessed by the Arts Council England (ACE) Security Team in advance of the loan objects being released. A visit from ACE’s National Security Adviser to discuss your facilities and security measures may also be required.


For loans to UK borrowers that meet the minimum standards set out in the UK Government Indemnity Guidelines, National Museums Scotland only requires insurance cover for the total agreed minimum liability stipulated for the value of the loan object(s).

For international and other UK venues, commercial insurance will be purchased by the Registrar through National Museums Scotland’s commercial insurance broker and the insurance premium will be passed on to the borrower. If you wish to use another insurance provider, you will need to submit details of the insurance policy and an insurance certificate to National Museums Scotland for approval at least two months in advance of the start of the loan.

For international loans, National Museums Scotland may also accept State Indemnity offered by the Borrower’s Government. A copy of the indemnity undertaking, in English, should be received by National Museums Scotland's Registrars for approval at least two months in advance of the start of the loan.

Loan charges

While National Museums Scotland will make every effort to keep loan costs to a minimum, as the borrower you will be responsible for the loan costs outlined below.


International and Commercial


Broader UK (outwith Scotland)


Costs of materials for packing, glazing and crating the loan objects

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs


Costs associated with the loan, including but not limited to, any mounts, mannequins, frames, hazards assessments

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs


Transport, we generally require the borrower to arrange a GIS compliant transport agent to undertake the loan transportation consulting with NMS beforehand. All related costs will be paid by the borrower directly to the transport agent. In some circumstances, alternative loan transport may be agreed with charges passed directly to the borrower

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs


Commercial insurance

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs


Travel, accommodation and subsistence for National Museums Scotland Couriers, as required

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs

Borrower responsible for full costs


Loan administration fee





Technician staff time for packing and unpacking the loan objects

£60 per hour




Pre-loan conservation time to prepare objects to lend including condition reporting as well as any conservation required to enable the loan to go ahead

£60 per hour

£40 per hour when significant resources required only

£40 per hour


Images of loan objects

£50 per image

£50 per image

£50 per image

Following approval of the loan by Collections Committee, our Registrar team will provide you with an outline of any estimated costs associated with the loan. Should you withdraw the request, you may still be required to pay for any work that has commenced at the point of cancellation.

Long-term loan

Long-term outgoing loans are agreed in line with the process above for a fixed term and are reviewed on a regular basis. At the end of the loan period, the loan may be renewed for a further term if both the borrower and National Museums Scotland agree to an extension. The review process enables National Museums Scotland to verify the objects’ location and condition, and to confirm that insurance cover and contact details are up to date. Photographs of the objects or a visit by a National Museums Scotland representative may be required to assess the condition of the objects. It is the borrower’s responsibility to cover any costs associated with the review and renewal of long-term loans. The Registrar team must be informed in advance of any changes or improvements to the borrowing venue that affect the display of the loan objects. They should also be notified of any relevant changes in staff resulting in new contact details for the loan.

Borrowing from the Collection
PDF (199.2 KB)
Collections Information and Access Policy 2018
PDF (97.7 KB)
Request a loan online
Use our form to apply for a loan of our objects.

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