Houghton Library

Guidelines for Exhibition Loan Requests


Internal Exhibition Loan Requests

  1. Loan requests for internal exhibitions (in Harvard venues) should be addressed to the Librarian, with a copy to the Registrar, and should include exhibition title; dates and venues; names of curators, conservators, and installation staff; formal institutional proposal; and a standard facilities report of the American Association of Museums or the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association or international equivalent. Borrowers should indicate specific location(s) within the museum or library where materials will be displayed, and should indicate how they propose to display materials: framed on a wall, flat in an exhibition case, supported by book cradles, or other conventional installation positions.

  2. Houghton Library should receive loan requests at least six months in advance to allow for a review by Library curators and the Registrar, and an assessment by the conservation staff for possible treatment.

  3. The maximum loan period is three months. Houghton Library does not ordinarily lend to multiple venues of the same exhibition.

  4. Houghton couriers will be used for transport of Houghton Library materials.

  5. Loans that involve valuable or fragile material will be installed by a Houghton staff member.

  6. The Library will supply credit lines to be used in exhibition catalogs and on exhibition labels.

  7. Houghton can provide book cradles or supports for the display. If the borrower prefers to make supports to our specifications, the supports will need to be sent to the Library in advance for examination and fitting.

  8. Images to be reproduced must be ordered from Houghton Library. Please allow at least 3 months for Imaging Services requests to be processed.

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External Exhibition Loan Requests

The collections of Houghton Library are acquired, cataloged, and made available in our reading room and in digital facsimiles in order to further the library’s mission of supporting research and teaching at Harvard University and within the larger scholarly community. Material is sometimes requested for exhibitions outside of Houghton Library. Houghton contributes to hon-Harvard exhibitions if they meet the following criteria: the material’s condition is not jeopardized, the exhibition makes a major contribution to a scholarly field of study, and the absence of the loaned material does not adversely impact teaching and research at Harvard.

  1. Loan requests for external exhibitions (from venues outside of Harvard) should be addressed to the Librarian, with a copy to the Registrar, and should include exhibition title; dates and venues; names of curators, conservators, and installation staff; formal institutional proposal; and a standard facilities report of the American Association of Museums or the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association or international equivalent. Borrowers should indicate specific location(s) within the museum or library where materials will be displayed, and should indicate how they propose to display materials: framed on a wall, flat in an exhibition case, supported by book cradles, or other conventional installation positions.

  2. Houghton Library should receive loan requests at least twelve months in advance to allow for a review by Library curators and the Registrar, and an assessment by the conservation staff for possible treatment.

  3. Borrowers are expected to cover all loan costs, including but not limited to insurance, packing and shipping, matting and framing, and necessary conservation. In some instances, borrowers will be required to underwrite the cost of producing surrogates for use at the Library while materials are on loan. In the event of a loan cancellation, the borrowing institution is required to reimburse Houghton Library expenses incurred to date. Borrowing institutions must carry portal-to-portal, all-risk fine arts insurance for the loan materials, and we require a certificate of insurance before materials may leave the Library. We accept government indemnities.

  4. In addition to the named costs above, Houghton Library charges a $250 administrative fee per item. The total fee is due at the time the borrower returns the signed copy of the loan agreement.

  5. The maximum loan period is three months. Houghton Library does not ordinarily lend to multiple venues of the same exhibition.

  6. Only experienced professional fine arts shippers, and their packing and crating services, may be used to transport Houghton Library material. The borrowing institution must receive the Library’s approval of the art shipper to be used for the loan.

  7. Loans that involve valuable or fragile material may require a courier who will also oversee installation and de-installation. Couriers travel first class or business class while transporting loans and receive standard housing and per diem allowances. In some situations, our couriers must be accompanied by trained security personnel at all times, except when in flight.

  8. The Library will supply credit lines to be used in exhibition catalogs and on exhibition labels.

  9. All matting, framing, and conservation must be done at Harvard prior to release of loan materials, the cost of which are charged to the borrowing institution. Houghton can provide book cradles or supports for the display. If the borrower prefers to make supports to our specifications, the supports will need to be sent to the Library in advance for examination and fitting.

  10. The Library will supply credit lines and permission for use of images in exhibition catalogs. Permission to use images in exhibition catalogs is required. Permission must be obtained in writing from the appropriate curator. The request must be submitted separately from the exhibition loan request, and as early as possible in the loan preparation period. Images to be reproduced must be ordered from Houghton Library. Please allow at least 6 months for Imaging requests to be processed.
    Please note: Permission for use of images in catalogs does not extend to use of these images in publicity or promotional materials in any medium.

  11. Materials on loan may not be repaired, unframed, photographed, placed in storage, or removed from the exhibition for any reason, including study.

  12. Materials on loan must be displayed for the agreed length of time or they must be returned immediately to the Library.

  13. Two copies of all catalogs, checklists, and promotional materials produced for exhibitions that include Houghton material should be sent to the attention of the Registrar.

  14. In addition to these guidelines, further specific requirements (lighting levels, special handling, installation protocols, etc.) may apply to particular loan requests.

Please contact the Registrar, Carie McGinnis, with any questions via e-mail or by phone at 617-495-9869.

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