Collections Loans

1. Policy

Issued: November 24, 2021
Last Revised: November 24, 2021
Last Reviewed: November 24, 2021

2. Policy Purpose

The USC Collections Loans Policy exists to ensure that all collections, acquisitions artworks, artifacts, or manuscript materials are loaned or temporarily transferred to University ownership according to all applicable laws, regulations, University standards, and museum artifact and works-of-art and library and archives professional organization best practices.

Borrowing and lending objects require specific procedures to assure object management and mitigation of risk. Loans do not involve transfer of title but are the temporary reassignment of objects from USC (outgoing) to another institution or to USC (incoming). All loans are for a defined period of time and for the stated purposes of exhibition, study, research, and education. Third party or permanent loans and commercial use of loaned materials is prohibited.

A written loan contract, utilizing the standard loan template, must accompany every loan with specifications on rights and responsibilities of each party. The loan contract must stipulate the conditions of the loan to insure adequate storage, environmental protection, security and safety precautions during transit, handling, and use.

3. Scope and Application

This policy applies to any and all University special collections objects loaned by University museums, libraries, departments and schools.

4. Definitions

Temporary NumbersTemporary numbers are assigned and used for all incoming objects when the University assumes temporary custody, whether for exhibition, research, education or potential purchase/donation, etc. For example:TR for temporary receipt (e.g. TR 2021.1 or TR1.2021)TD for temporary deposit (e.g. TD2021.1 or TD1.2021)L for loan (e.g. L1.2021 or L2021.1)
Loan AgreementIt is a binding legal document between the borrower and the lender on conditions agreed by both parties in regards of the loan.
Exhibition AgreementA special agreement made for traveling exhibition.
Facility ReportA comprehensive report provided by the borrowing institution to the lending institution when considering a loan request. It contains essential information on the institution’s physical specifications and staff practices including building construction, environmental control, security, fire and theft protection, insurance, loan history, etc.

5. Policy Details 

The purposes for which USC may release an object to another institution as an outgoing loan are as follows:

  • For exhibition as part of a temporary installation, exhibition or travel exhibition.
  • For research, study or related educational purposes for stated institutional purposes.

Outgoing objects with activities that fall into the day-to-day maintenance and care of the Collections, such as sending the object to a vendor for framing, conservation, photography, digitization, identification, or examination are not consider as outgoing loans. Contracts and terms should follow protocols with the Business and Services.

The unit needs to notify Risk Management anytime when an object or objects with total value of more than $2.5M leaves the USC premises for care and maintenance. Such notification needs to be made well in advance, and the unit needs to check with the vendor to ensure there is adequate loss control security methods, including burglar and fire alarms and protections, as well as a certificate of insurance from the vendor showing their business/liability coverage. Outgoing objects will total value less than $2.5M should be reported to Risk Management on a monthly report of all off site objects.

When unsolicited objects are left at the unit, the unit needs to notify the sender immediately that the unsolicited parcel will be returned and the sender needs to be responsible for the insurance in transit and while at the USC premises.

The purposes for which USC may accept an object as an incoming loan are as follows:

  • For exhibition as part of a temporary installation, exhibition or travel exhibition.
  • For research, study or related educational purposes for approved purposes.
  • For inspection and study with regard to possible acquisition by donation or purchase.

Outgoing Loans

USC Collections are loaned to reach a wider audience and facilitate research. While on loan, objects must be afforded the same level of care and protection as provided by USC. Conditions of loan in regards to environmental control, insurance, cost of handling, security and safety measures must be included in writing agreed by both parties. Because of these considerations, loans are made only to other similar institutions, non-profit agencies, and educational organizations.

Only objects from The Collections may be considered for loan. All loan activities must be documented into institutional records. The unit may further restrict the kinds of objects or materials eligible for loans based on nature, rarity, monetary value, research priority, and/or management considerations of the objects.

Requirements for Approving an Outgoing Loan:

Loan Request

The borrowing institution must send a formal loan request to the unit detailing the title of the exhibition or purpose of the loan, loan periods, location of the venue with dates, and deadline of response. Encourage the borrowing institution to make the loan request as early as possible, customarily 6 months – 1 years for exhibition loan, to allow sufficient time for approvals and preparation.

Facility Reports

To assure objects requested for loan receive proper care and security, the borrowing institution must present verification of their environmental, storage, exhibition, and security conditions and procedures for the handling and transit of objects via their facility report. The AAM General Facility Report is the standard and recommended facility report used when requesting loans. The unit should raise questions to areas of concerns on the facility report and work with the borrowing institution to make improvement.

Special consideration needs to be given to restrict light level and exposure period, temperature and relative humidity according to the material, sensitivity and condition of the objects and should be discussed with the borrowing institution as early as possible. An outside conservator at the borrower’s expense may be consulted if the object is fragile and needs professional advice to ensure the safety of the object.

Conditions Reports for Outgoing Loan

The unit shall assess the condition of the object, including framing, glazing, mount, hardware and any accompanying vitrine or base, during the initial loan discussion to determine that the condition of the object is stable to withstand travel, handling, and display.

The unit must complete a condition report prior to outgoing shipment of a loan and after its return to USC. The condition report is complete with notes on current conditions, pre-existing conditions, previous repairs and any instabilities on the object, and with additional note on frame, base or any other accompanying element. The condition report will accompany the object to the borrowing institution, and it is expected to be completed and returned by the borrowing institution in the same manner.

Objects on loan cannot be altered, cleaned, or repaired unless permission to do so is authorized in writing by USC unit responsible for caring of the objects on loan, except where strictly necessary on an emergency basis to protect the object from further damage.


Insurance is a component of a broader Risk-Management program of USC. It is standard practice for the borrowing institution to be responsible for insuring the loan. If the borrowing institution is unable to provide insurance, a request for an exception must be made in writing by the unit to USC’s Risk Management.

  • Insurance value of the loan must be included in the Loan Agreement and reported to USC Risk Management. Curator, registrar, collection manager or professional collection staff shall determine the insurance value, in consultation with a third-party appraisal if object is of high value. The unit should request a copy of the current insurance policy from the borrowing institution to ensure adequate coverage, and review terms on limits of coverage, terrorism insurance, deductibles, exclusions, property insured, policy terms, and terms of cancellation.

If the staff determines an outgoing loan has provenance issue, consider obtaining governmental immunity from seizure and discuss it with the borrowing institution prior signing the loan agreement or exhibition agreement. The borrowing institution is responsible applying for the government indemnities.

A certificate of Insurance showing coverage for “all risk” and on “wall to wall” basis must be provided by the borrowing institution prior shipment of the object, with USC named as Loss Payee and/or Additional Insured, special insurance requirement agreed upon per loan agreement, such as terrorism insurance or flood insurance, shall be included on the certificate of insurance.

Long-term loans must be renewed annually with addendum to the original loan agreement and extended insurance coverage. Borrowing institution must provide new certificate of insurance showing continuing insurance coverage and confirming the condition and location of the objects. Insurance values may be updated regularly and the borrowing institution should be notified during renewal period.

In the case of exchange loans or reciprocal loan for the mutual benefit of both institutions, different insurance requirement can be made and agreed by both parties.

Terms and Fees

The borrowing institution is responsible for paying all expenses related to temporary and long-term loans, incoming gifts, study or research loans, or any other loans with educational purposes. Terms and fees must be negotiated and written on the loan agreement or exhibition agreement. Fees might include loan fee, expense of crating, preparation, shipping, matting and framing, glazing, conservation, courier and rental storage, as well as insurance if the lending unit chooses to maintain USC’s own insurance for the loan. Special conditions may be required for delicate objects or objects with high value, the cost of special frame, base, mount, alarm and barriers, and environmental controls and monitoring shall be discussed as early as possible to allow borrowing institution adequate time to prepare physically and financially. All special requirements need to be made in writing on the loan agreement once agreed upon by both parties.


The unit should communicate with the borrowing institution if a courier is required for the shipment of the loan, installation and de-installation of the loan. 

Loan Agreement

The loan agreement is a binding contract between the borrowing institution and USC. It needs to be reviewed by the Office of General Counsel and Risk Management prior to the final version being signed by the authorized representative. 

Exhibition Agreement

In the case of a traveling exhibition where USC is the organizing institution, insurance is generally the responsibility of the organization institution. The venue will typically pay a fee, which covers the insurance premium. For multi-venue exhibitions, the organizing institution is responsible to relay all lenders’ requirements to the venues.  

The organizing institution will reviewed facility report from each venue carefully and shared them with the lenders for review. In the event of a large gap between exhibition windows, discuss the arrangement of the loan with the lenders, including possible offsite storage and postpone shipment between venues. All arrangement must receive written permission from the lenders in advance.

Final version of negotiated terms and fees will be included on the Exhibition Agreement and reviewed by the Office of General Counsel and Risk Management prior to signature. Coordinate with Business Services to ensure timely billing and invoices are paid according to the agreement.


Generally, the borrowing institution is responsible for making all the shipping arrangements, subject to USC approval, and for paying all the shipping costs. USC has the right to refuse the use of certain shipping agent or recommend shipping agent with a history of safely packing, crating and shipping artworks.

An outgoing shipping receipt, along with the condition report and exhibition binder (for traveling exhibition) shall accompany the loan to the borrowing institution. The receipt, signed by the staff, serves as a formal notification of the arrival of the loan; and the countersignature from the borrowing institution serves as an acknowledgement for receiving the loan. Obtain the signed shipping receipt in a timely manner, upload a copy of the condition report and shipping receipt to the database, and update the status and location of the outgoing object. 


Objects on loan must be returned promptly when the loan period expires. USC reserves the right to cancel the loan prior to the end of the loan period, to deny renewal of any loan or to extend the loan for good reason.

USC Credit Lines

USC must be credited with standard credit line in all publications and exhibitions associated with the loan object, including photographs and reproductions, and should request two (2) copies of any publication. The object(s) should be identified by its title and catalog or accession number.

Incoming Loans

USC may receive loans from institutions or individuals. If the lending institution or individual does not provide a loan agreement, USC will use its incoming loan agreement to document the incoming loan. USC exercises the same care with objects on loan as it does with its own objects.

Incoming Loans Restrictions

  • No object will be accepted on loan that has been acquired by illegal and unethical means in recognition of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, adopted in November 1970. Loan objects can be received only from the legal owner or authorized agent.
  • Objects will not be received on loan from USC staff members.
  • Loans of personal property from individuals for warehousing in USC will not be considered.


  • All incoming loans must be insured.
  • It is the responsibility of the unit to make appropriate arrangements for insurance of the loan objects with USC’s Risk Management.
  • All incoming loans that are insured must include the provision that the amount payable by the insurance company is the only recoupment available to the lender in the event of loss or damage.
  • If insurance is waived, a written agreement by the lender to waive insurance and release USC from any liability associated with the loan must be on file prior to receipt of the loan. It is generally in the form of a waiver of subrogation.
  • It is the responsibility of the lender to provide substantiated insurance valuations. The type of valuation must be stated on the loan agreement (fair-market, replacement, conservation, material, or special consideration). USC does not provide evaluations or appraisals for a loan object(s).
  • Any inconsistency in the loan inventory or any change in the condition of the loan object(s), must be reported immediately to Risk Management. The unit must notify the lending party and, when appropriate, Risk Management notifies the insurance company and prepares a full condition report.  It is the responsibility of Risk Management to handle claim negotiations.
  • For a long-term loan that overlaps the annual insurance renewal period, the unit should work with Risk Management in providing an updated certificate of insurance to the lending institution.

Loan Agreement

The borrower (USC) generally prepares loan agreement for incoming loan, but lender may request to use their agreement. Final version of loan agreement must be reviewed by the Office of General Counsel before signature. Normally the lender signs and returns the loan agreement, and the authorized USC representative will countersign it. Each party has a copy of the loan agreement.

The lender is responsible for notifying the unit of any change to the ownership of the loan. In the event of joint ownership by multiple lenders, consult with Office of General Counsel as needed. A loan with possible dispute of ownership should not be returned to one lender without the written consent of the other.


When making shipping arrangement with a USC vendor, the unit also needs to ensure the vendor has up-to-date business/property liability. If the unit uses the shipping vendor for offsite storage, make sure to ask for a copy of their facility report for offsite storage.

When coordinating with the shipping vendor to pack, crate and ship the loan, general principle is to consider the need to protect the loan against shock, vibration and rapid changes in temperature and humidity. Some loans can only ride flat and cannot be tilted in any way. Clearly communicate the need and any special requirements from the lender with the shipping vendor during the initial conversations.

When making shipping arrangements, consider and consult with the shipping vendor on travel distance, route, object information with size, media and fragility, security, value and type of conveyance.

If the unit uses an international vendor for international shipping, consult with an international shipping agent in the area of origin to ensure customs, import and export licenses; or special concern, assure that permits for cultural property and sensitive materials (such as ivory, human remains, materials made from endangered species of wildlife, plant and marine life) are legally and properly obtained before shipment.

The unit is responsible for submitting an application for Immunity from Judicial Seizure to the U.S. Department of State if requested by the lender, and should be done as early as possible.

When the unit receives the loan, promptly examine and photo document the outside condition of the crate or packaging. Make note of damage to the crate or packaging. Allow 24 hours of acclimatization for the loan before opening the crate or removing the packaging. Promptly examine and photo document the all components inside the crate/packaging, clearly label packing materials for use of re-packing in the future.

Save all the packing materials, as it is general protocol to re-use the same material and pack in the same manner as before. If the pacing material cannot be re-used, the same or similar quality of the material should be used in replacement. Return shipment shall be in the manner as received.

If the lender requests a return shipment to a destination different from the loan agreement, it must be made in writing and documented. Discuss with the lender on who is responsible for the additional cost of the shipment. 

Condition Report

The unit needs to make a comprehensive condition report for all incoming loans. If the lender did not provide a condition report, the unit needs to prepare one. The condition report should be done by experienced staff such as a registrar, collection manager or collection staff who is trained in condition reporting. Contract registrar or conservator may be secured to do the condition report if the unit has no staff qualified to do it.

The condition report should be clear, precise in description indicating areas of condition and the type of condition, supported with photo documentation or video recording if necessary. Notify the lender immediately of any damage found on the loan. No conservation work may be done without the approval of the lender, except in the event of strict emergency. Notify Risk Management immediately if a claim needs to be made.

A condition report should be sent to the lender in a timely manner, notifying any changes in condition or if any parts are not received. Condition report needs to be reviewed and updated when the loan is ready to be returned to the lender, prior to packing and shipment. Forward the condition report to the lender when the loan is shipped for return.

Installation, De-Installation & Care

Only experienced staff may handle the incoming loan, and should exercise with the high standard of care similar to that for The Collections. Care of the loan should adhere to the terms and requirements listed on the loan agreement/exhibition agreement. Framing, unframing, cleaning, and modification of any kind to the loan must be request in writing and with the approval from the lender in advance.

Assign each loan with a temporary loan number for tracking in the database prior the arrival of the loan. Label each loan with the temporary loan number in reversible method if needed to track location and movement of the loan. Monitor the loan throughout the loan period and notify the lender if any damage or change of condition occurred.

Return Loan

Loan should be returned within the loan periods stated on the loan agreement. If the loan needs to be extended, submit request to lender early and update the loan agreement with an addendum reflecting the change of information and extension of the loan.

Upon receiving the returned loan by the lender, the unit needs to secure in writing on the incoming/outgoing shipping receipt signature from the lender to confirm the receipt of loan and safety of the arrival with no change of the condition on the loan. A signed receipt must be secured to update the status and location of the loan in the database, to document the loan transaction and to close the loan record properly.

Change of ownership

It is the lender’s responsibility to notify USC of any change of ownership and ensure the new owner will adhere to the existing terms and conditions listed on the loan agreement. A new loan agreement should be signed with the new owner.


The unit is responsible for the maintenance of records and timely update in the database of any changes of the loan and objects from the Collection. All incoming loans/objects must have temporary assigned numbers created in the database. Temporary numbers can be assigned based on the intention of the loan/objects. All related documents, such as loan agreement, incoming and outgoing shipping receipts, condition reports, can be uploaded to the database according to the assigned temporary numbers. The condition, location and status of the incoming objects can be tracked in the database in addition to hard copy of the original documents.

When an object is returned to the owner or lending institution, status of the object will be updated and closed with a copy of the return receipt in the database. This process intents to avoid future problem in identifying objects left at the University with unknown ownership, potential insurance claims and enforce sound and professional practices.

Commonly used format for the temporary numbers:

TR for temporary receipt (e.g. TR 2021.1 or TR1.2021) – research, study, education purposes

TD for temporary deposit (e.g. TD2021.1 or TD1.2021) – donation/purchase

L for loan (e.g. L1.2021 or L2021.1) – exhibition/display

The unit should produce a monthly report of all offsite objects from The Collections to track the status and location of the objects. Such report will be sent to Risk Management on a monthly basis to be informed of insurance risks.

Unclaimed Loans

Property on loan to USC for fifteen years or more, and for which no written loan agreement exists, and to which no person has made claim according to the records of USC, is considered abandoned.

An annual or full inventory can identify any expired loans remained in the University. Objects found within the University’s custody with unknown source or identification should be treated as a loan until they have been identified. Refer to the Found-in-Collection policy and consult with Office of General Counsel on how to deal with these objects.

6. Procedures

Procedure for USC Specialized Collections Loans

7. Forms

Incoming Loan Agreement (with addendum)

Outgoing Loan Agreement

Artist Exhibition Agreement (with amendment)

Shipping Receipt for Incoming Loans

Shipping Receipt for Outgoing Loans

General Facility Report

8. Responsibilities

USC MuseumsReceives and review loan requests for the Collection. Process loans requested by USC Museums.
USC LibraryReceives and review loan requests for the Collection. Process loans requested by USC Library.
Office of General CounselReview and revise any contract, loan agreement, and exhibition agreement with lending/borrowing institution or individual lender/borrower.
Risk ManagementReview insurance policy, provide certificate of insurance, advice on insurance need and implement changes or endorsement to existing policy, secure a separate exhibition policy if needed.
Office of ProvostRepresentative authorized to sign on any contract, loan agreement, exhibition agreement, and addendum with lending/borrowing institution or individual lender/borrower.

9. Related Information

Immunity from Judicial Seizure Applications

UNESCO Convention November 1970

10. Contact Information

Office of General Counsel(213)