How to borrow

The British Museum believes in making its collections widely available.

The Museum lends thousands of objects each year, contributing to hundreds of different exhibitions and displays at venues in the UK and around the world.

The British Museum welcomes requests to lend items from the collection to exhibitions or displays that are open to the general public and contribute to knowledge and understanding of their subject.

The Loans Policy provides further information on broad principles governing loans from the collection.

Download the Loans Policy

Marble portrait head from a statue of Antinous (d.AD130), favourite of the Emperor Hadrian, wearing a wreath of ivy. The bust is modern.

Making your request

Preparing your loan request

Prospective borrowers are encouraged to carry out preliminary research before making a loan request.

A useful resource for planning a loan request is the Collections Online database which gives details on over two million items from the British Museum collection.

The Museum welcomes informal, early contact to discuss object selection and the practicalities of borrowing. Please contact either the Loans Section, or the relevant curatorial department.

For very large requests, it is highly recommended that you discuss the loan with the Museum before submitting the formal request.

Information to include in your request

  • exhibition or display title, venue(s), and opening and closing dates
  • details of main exhibition or display themes
  • full details of the items requested for loan, including British Museum registration number(s)
  • explanation of how the requested items fit into a proposed display context or exhibition concept
  • names and contact details of the person(s) responsible at each venue
  • details of how the requested items will be insured or indemnified

Submitting your formal loan request

Loan requests should be made by formal letter at least one year in advance of the exhibition or display opening date. Letters should be addressed to:

Dr Hartwig Fischer, Director
British Museum, London, WC1B 3DG, UK

Formal letters should be posted to the address above, or emailed to

How loans are agreed

A loan request will be reviewed and a decision will be made based upon advice from the curatorial and conservation departments.

Key considerations:

  • relevance of the requested object(s) to the exhibition/display
  • object(s) availability
  • object(s) suitability for travel and display
  • administrative and technical work involved, in the context of the Museum’s existing programme of activity

Prospective borrowers should receive a response within two months of the formal request being submitted.

Security and facilities documentation

Before the loan agreement is signed, the borrower will be asked to complete Standard Facilities Reports which will provide essential information connected with venue, access, security, environmental and display conditions.

Security information will be forwarded to the UK National Museums Security Adviser who will be asked to give an independent assessment of the security arrangements at prospective borrowing venue(s). Preferably the facilities report completed by the borrower should be the UK Registrars’ Group Facilities Report, with the Security Supplement and Display Supplement.

Once the loan is agreed, the British Museum will provide details of specific security, environmental and mounting requirements for each object being borrowed. Photography for catalogue and other purchases can be arranged with the Museum's Picture Library, BM Images.

Loan costs

The British Museum expects borrowers to cover all direct costs connected with the loan, such as:

  • transportation and courier costs
  • crating and packing materials
  • insurance or cover through a national indemnity scheme
  • condition photography

International borrowers may also asked to contribute to the costs of preparing the items for loan, including administration, technical and essential conservation work.

Further information

Further information on how to borrow from the British Museum, or about the Museum’s conditions of loan is available from the Loans Section,

Other ways to borrow

Partnership UK loans

The British Museum’s Partnership UK Programme works closely with museums and galleries through the UK, developing and touring complete exhibitions and displays that are tailored to the needs of the partner institutions.

UK loans and touring exhibitions  

International touring exhibitions

The British Museum works with partners outside the UK to develop and tour large-scale themed exhibitions.

About international touring exhibitions