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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

Institutions of all types may participate, including municipal, state, private, and university organizations that meet the American Alliance of Museums' definition of a museum:

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 preparation, packing, crating, handling, transportation, courier costs, and insurance. 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, fax or write the National Lending Service, indicating your specific areas of interest.

2. Complete a facilities information form describing your museum's provisions for security, staffing, and environmental control.

3. If NGA requirements are met, photographs of available works will be sent, or the borrower may view available works online or at the NGA.

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 Gallery for use by other institutions. The NGA 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 Gallery's policy (the borrower to be billed for extended loans at the end of each calendar year or upon termination of the loan)
  • annual conservation examination, if the loan is extended beyond the initial loan period.

Further Information

For additional information, please call, fax or write.

The Department of Loans
and the National Lending Service

National Gallery of Art
2000 South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785

Telephone: (202) 842-6822
Fax: (202) 789-3246