Disaster Management and Exhibition Loans: Contingency Planning for Items on Display

Disaster Management and Exhibition Loans: Contingency Planning for Items on Display

Patti Gibbons (University of Chicago Library, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8624-3.ch007
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Materials on loan to libraries and other cultural heritage institutions are very often historically significant, highly valuable, and frequently irreplaceable, yet traditional disaster management planning literature does not address the additional needs that items loaned for exhibitions present. In the event of an unforeseen incident, this omission leaves loan participants vulnerable to risk and exposed to potential loss. Disaster preparedness and response policies that address risks presented by exhibition loans, and that detail procedures for these materials, can help libraries minimize the potential loss of often prized and high profile borrowed materials in the event of an emergency. The chapter provides information and guidelines on how to address the needs of loaned materials into institutional contingency planning.
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From a legal perspective, formal written agreements obligate institutions borrowing materials to care for materials on loan, including care initiated in contingency responses, yet the body of professional library literature does not directly provide comprehensive assistance on how best to administer exhibition loans with disaster planning protocols in mind. Frequently, library staff administer loans as an additional task assigned to a person involved in exhibition planning, preservation, or departmental administration. Librarians managing exhibition loans can benefit from the professional standards and best practices developed by museum registrars and collection managers who manage loans as their primary professional pursuit.

Furthermore, libraries insure materials on loans differently from their main holdings, and loan materials may present legal indemnity issues. The body of professional library literature does not directly enumerate these matters, yet librarians managing exhibition loans must understand these concerns and know how to address them.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Additional Insured: A party added to an insurance policy who is entitled to policy coverage and named benefits.

“All Risks” Insurance Policy: A type of property insurance policy that covers all losses that arise during the term of the policy except those listed as exclusions. Fine art insurance policies generally include coverage for theft, damage by water, and damage resulting from natural disasters. Policies typically exclude coverage for damage caused by nuclear incidents, acts of war, employee dishonesty, improper packing, and general wear and tear. “All risks” policies are different from “named peril” policies because these contracts cover everything besides the named exceptions, and “named peril” agreements cover only the risks specifically enumerated in the policy.

Condition Report: A written document that identifies, quantifies, and tracks damage or physical changes of cultural heritage materials over a given time period. Materials on loan are examined prior to loan, upon unpacking, after exhibition, and upon return.

“Nail-to-Nail” / “Wall-to-Wall” Insurance: Property insurance coverage that is in effect throughout the entire period of the loan. Loan materials are covered during transit and when onsite at the borrowing institution.

Fire Protection Systems: The mechanical building infrastructure employed to detect and spontaneously extinguish fire, and thus prevent catastrophic loss. Examples include: wet pipe fire protection system—A fire sprinkler system where water is held in piping prior to release, dry pipe/pre-action fire protection system—A fire sprinkler system where water is withheld from piping until system detects smoke, heat, or flame, mist fire protection systems—A fire sprinkler system where water turns into steam and the steam cools, wets, and removes oxygen from flames. Mist systems use less water than traditional systems, and may cause less extensive secondary damage during an event. gaseous/clean agent fire protection system—A waterless fire suppression system that employs inert gases to extinguish fire. Halon is a specific gas frequently used in collection/book stack setting. These extinguishing systems present environmental and life safety risks and have been largely banned from use, though older systems remain.

Facility Report: A template created by the Registrars Council of the American Alliance of Museums, or a comparable foreign professional body, to record information prospective lenders review to appraise a cultural heritage institution’s physical building, staff practices, and collection management programs.

Indemnity from Judicial Seizure: Immunity from confiscation is a judicial amenity awarded to significant cultural materials imported for exhibition. Protection and application processes vary by country and national governments grant protection.

Fine Art Packing, Fine Art Shipping, and Fine Art Transportation: Informal designations that imply an adherence to following safe handling best practice protocols when packing, shipping, and transporting works of art, rare library materials, or other significant cultural heritage materials. Insurers typically require professional-level fine art packing, shipping, and transportation during loans.

Registration: Collection care principles and procedures applied to handle and track the receipt and movement of fine art items, including the documentation and management of loans and fine art insurance.

Loss Payee: The party named in a property insurance policy that is entitled to part or all of the insurance disbursement. With exhibition loans, listing the owners as additional loss payee is beneficial.

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