Loan Policies

The following is a brief summary of the policies guide the MIT Museum in the administration of incoming and outgoing loans to other institutions, organizations, and MIT departments. Please refer to the Collection’s Manual for the complete loan policy.

MIT Museum makes loans of objects from its collections to qualified borrowers and may request loans from other organizations or individuals for exhibition purposes. The Museum does not accept indefinite or permanent loans. Documentation of loans is maintained in Registration Loan Files.

Except as outlined below, the museum does not make loans of collections materials to individuals or Institute offices for research purposes or for use in publications. Individuals wishing to access biographical or subject files must come to the museum to conduct research. Patrons in need of photographic materials may have reproductions made at their expense. Special loan requests will not normally be considered; however, any such exceptions must be approved by the director.

Outgoing Loans

Requests for loans from the museum’s collections will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • The object is not judged to be too fragile to withstand the associated handling, shipping, and changes in climate.
  • Conditions during the loan period will not endanger the object.
  • The object is not needed during the requested loan period.

Loans from the collections are made at the discretion of the appropriate curator, with final approval from the director. Loans are not made for personal use or for commercial purposes. The museum will not consider requests for loans of original documentary photographs unless the borrower can show a need to exhibit the original object.

The museum does not make indefinite or permanent loans. The duration of a loan must be specified on the Loan Agreement and cannot exceed three years. Requests for loan extensions are evaluated by the appropriate curator and approved by the director. If granted, loan extensions must also be for a specified period of time, not exceeding three years.

Requests for outgoing loans must be made in writing to the appropriate curator and the borrower must include a current AAM Facilities Report with the request. Non-museum educational organizations must certify to MIT Museum that they are able to provide professional, museum-quality care for loaned objects before an outgoing loan will be approved. 

The museum charges a loan fee of $100 per item for all outgoing loans. It considers the circumstances for each individual loan and decides whether there is a need to change or waive this amount. In addition, the borrower is responsible for any appraisal, conservation, packing, shipping, handling, and insurance costs associated with the loan. Unframed works on paper will be matted and framed by museum staff at the borrower’s expense. Mats and frames remain the property of MIT Museum.

If an outgoing loan is insured by the borrower, a certificate of insurance must be issued to MIT Museum prior to shipment of the object. If the borrower requests that MIT Museum maintain its own insurance on the object for the duration of the loan, it will be done at the borrower’s expense.

Appraisal values for insurance purposes will be based on estimations of the fair market value of the object as determined by the museum’s curatorial staff. If museum staff cannot provide an accurate valuation or if the period of the loan is greater than one year, a professional outside appraisal may be required at the borrower’s expense.

Incoming Loans

Requests for loans to the museum are made by the appropriate curator and are reviewed with consideration of the object’s provenance, its condition, the clarity of rights and title, the presence of lender imposed restrictions, and the associated costs of the loan.

MIT Museum does not accept incoming loans offered for the purposes of commercial exploitation of the object or to increase the value of the object when sold, nor does it provide long- or short-term storage services.

Campus Loans

Loans are generally not made to members of the MIT community for decorative purposes. However, certain museum objects that relate to MIT’s unique historical contributions may be loaned to select and appropriate locations on campus.  These objects are considered to be on special loan and may be removed at any time at the discretion of the director.

Objects may not be moved or re-loaned without permission from the museum, and it is the responsibility of the borrowing office to immediately report any damage to or change in the condition of the object to the museum.  Works of Art on paper are not loaned, but a high quality reproduction can be obtained at the borrower’s expense.

Refer to the MIT Museum Collections Manual for more details, or contact Joan Whitlow, Registrar and Collections Manager, at 617-253-4266 or jwhitlow@mit.edu.

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