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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ENGLAND’S RECORD £8.6bn LOANS



England’s record £8.6bn loans
Fourfold increase in value of indemnified art borrowed—and nearly all of it returned safely

By Martin Bailey. Museums, Issue 242, January 2012
Published online: 08 January 2013

Museums and galleries in England borrowed art indemnified by the government worth a record £8.6bn last year—a fourfold increase over the past 15 years. Without this support, most venues would find it difficult to mount exhibitions with extremely high value loans; if the galleries that benefited from indemnity had taken out commercial insurance, it would have cost a total of more than £20m.

The increase mainly reflects the rise in prices on the art market, particularly for major works. However, the number of venues has also increased, largely due to new National Lottery-funded buildings, such as Tate Modern. Works lent to national museums accounted for 75% of the £8.6bn; loans to other venues made up the rest.

We have obtained the first detailed data on the UK’s Government Indemnity Scheme, which is administered by the Arts Council in England and by the respective governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The scheme covers art loaned from the UK and abroad, for both temporary exhibitions and long-term loans. (Loans from national museums to other UKmuseums are not covered, since the rationale is that the works belong to the nation and it would be inappropriate to use taxpayers’ money to indemnify them.) Indemnity covers conservation (in the event of damage) and replacement value (in the event of loss, through theft or fire).

Among the exhibitions in the past financial year that pushed up the figure was the National Gallery’s “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan” (9 November 2011-5 February 2012). 

Although only eight paintings by Leonardo were borrowed (plus works by other artists), the works were all extremely valuable. 



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