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Loan Requests

We are committed to enabling and broadening access to our collections through loans to external exhibitions and displays.

We’re happy to receive requests from prospective borrowers in the public or private sectors, both in the UK and overseas. We consider loan requests from bodies including museums, galleries, libraries and archives. Institutions we have loaned to recently include:

  • New York Historical Society
  • Tate Britain
  • National Maritime Museum
  • British Library
  • Durham University Library
  • The Collection, Lincoln
  • Museum of London
  • Wellcome Collection

Details of all the materials in our collections can be found by searching our online catalogue. If you wish to view an item before making a loan request please make an appointment to visit our search room. We’re happy to discuss your exhibition proposal in more detail and how we might support our loans through talks, workshops and other activities.

Borrowers will be required to agree to terms and conditions relating to the loan (the loan contract). These terms include provisions for meeting certain costs, such as those relating to transport and couriering, and for indemnifying the value of the loan, as well as for compliance with requirements in respect of security and environmental conditions. Borrowers in the UK will also be asked to supply a UK Registrar’s Group Standard Facilities Report for the exhibition venue.

Requests to borrow are subject to a minimum notice period of 6 months. We cannot guarantee to consider loan requests that do not meet the stated notice period.

Formal loan requests must be made in writing on institutional letterhead and addressed to:

The Director
Parliamentary Archives
Houses of Parliament
Requests must include the following details:

  • Title of the exhibition or display.
  • Exhibition venue and key dates.
  • Contact details of the exhibition organiser and loans registrar.
  • General outline of the exhibition topic and aims.
  • List of items requested, quoting catalogue reference numbers wherever possible.
  • Reason for requesting items from the collection.

Any changes made to the details submitted must be confirmed in writing to the Director.

Following receipt by the Director, loan requests are forwarded to the Head of Public Services and Outreach and the Collection Care team who will coordinate the loan assessment process and
manage any subsequent loans. They will consider the application and initiate a dialogue with the applicant before making a recommendation to the Director. In addition to checking for evidence of the borrower’s ability to meet the requirements of the terms and conditions they will also take into consideration other factors such as:

  • Whether the item is likely to be required for display or other outreach activity by the Parliamentary Archives or any other body during the proposed loan period.
  • Loan requests that might be received in future for the same item.
  • The number of other loans being processed and managed at the same time.
  • The condition of the item and its suitability for transport, handling and display.
  • The length of the proposed loan period. Loans of more than 4 months are not normally approved and would in any case not exceed 6 months.
  • The potential for the loan to support the Parliamentary Archives’ own audience development plans.
  • Any sensitivities likely to be associated with the exhibition.

A loan cannot proceed without the approval of the Clerk of the Parliaments or the Clerk of the House of Commons. This will be sought by the Director of the Parliamentary Archives once the loan has been reviewed by the Head of Public Services and Outreach and the Collection Care team.