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National Lending Service

The National Lending Service was established to make the collections of the National Gallery of Art accessible to museums throughout the United States. This is accomplished through Extended Loans of individual objects for display with qualifying museums' permanent collections.

Requirements for Participation

All institutions that meet the American Association of Museums (AAM) definition of a museum may request to borrow works from the National Gallery's Collection. AAM defines a museum as:

A legally organized nonprofit institution, essentially educational in nature, which owns or utilizes tangible objects, cares for them, and exhibits them to the public on some regular schedule.

Borrowing museums must meet certain standards of security, staffing, and environmental control. Borrowers are responsible only for the direct costs of loans, which may include (but are not limited to) preparation, such as matting and framing, climate-proofing, waterproofing, vitrines, packing, crating, handling, transportation, courier costs, and insurance, which will be maintained under the National Gallery's policy. There is no administrative or special loan fee.

Extended Loan Program

The Extended Loan Program encompasses over 1,300 works from the National Gallery's collection, including some old master paintings and a number of works by 18th- and 19th-century American artists. Among them are:

  • More than 350 paintings of American Indians by George Catlin
  • Approximately 300 naive American paintings
  • Modern paintings and sculpture, both European and American
  • More than 175 paintings by Mark Rothko

A museum may borrow up to five objects for an initial period of one year with consideration given to subsequent requests for annual renewal. An annual examination of the works by a trained conservator is required when a renewal is requested.

How to Borrow

1. Call (202) 842-6822, fax (202) 789-3246, or write Lisa MacDougall, senior loan officer, at [email protected] indicating your specific areas of interest.

2. Complete a facilities information form describing your museum's provisions for security, staffing, and environmental control. For new borrowers and borrowers whose facilities have undergone renovations, the National Gallery will require at least six months of satisfactory environmental readings before a loan can be approved.

3. If National Gallery requirements are met, photographs of available works will be sent. Alternatively, the borrower may view available works online or in person at the National Gallery.

4. Request up to five works by letter directed to the National Lending Service, explaining how each object requested will supplement the borrower's collection. Museums borrowing for the first time should allow six to eight weeks for loan approval.

5. After a loan has been approved, the National Gallery will arrange for insurance and shipping. Photographs and curatorial information can also be provided

Obligations of the Borrower

1. The borrower must exhibit the works continuously during the loan period. If such exhibition becomes impossible, the loan may be terminated and the works returned to the National Gallery for use by other institutions. The National Gallery reserves the right to recall works at any time for such purposes as special exhibitions or conservation treatment.

2. The borrower is responsible for the following costs associated with the loan:

  • preparation including framing, glazing, and vitrines, if necessary;
  • crating, packing, handling, and shipment to and from the borrowing institution;
  • courier expenses, if a courier is required;
  • insurance, which will be maintained under the National Gallery's policy (the borrower to be billed for extended loans at the end of each calendar year or upon termination of the loan); and
  • annual conservation examination, if the loan is extended beyond the initial loan period.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact Senior Loan Officer Lisa MacDougall at [email protected] or (202) 842-6822.

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