National Programmes
Conference and Seminars

Over the last six years the British Museum has held an annual conference focused on partnerships in the museum sector.

The British Museum regularly hosts lectures, seminars and conferences, but the National Programmes is sector-facing, with a focus of working across the UK.

The annual conference is designed to be a networking opportunity and a chance to inspire new partnership activity. We want to make sure that the conference is relevant and useful to the museum representatives who attend.

We are open to ideas and suggestions for the annual conference. For more information contact Georgia Mallin, UK Partnerships Coordinator:

Lecture theatre

31 August 2017

National Programmes Conference 2017

Get what you give? The value and benefits of proactively lending collections

This year’s National Programmes conference, hosted at the British Museum on 31 August 2017 thanks to the generous support of the Vivmar Foundation, explored the subject of lending museum collections. #proactivelending

Conference Scope

Lending is a vibrant part of our sector, and museums’ capacity to borrow from each other is being substantially increased thanks to recent initiatives such as Arts Council England’s ‘Ready to Borrow’ grants programme, the Touring Exhibitions Group’s 'Preparing to Borrow' initiative, and the Art Fund Weston Loans Programme.

This conference was designed to explore how we can make the most of these opportunities and get more collections on the move, with the aim of encouraging and supporting UK museums of every size, as well as non-museum spaces with collections, to proactively lend to each other and to borrow from wider sources.

Conference Programme

The programme for the day included a range of sessions exploring the following themes though presentations, workshops, discussion and debate:

  • •    The role of public and private collections, with a keynote presentation from Museums Sheffield on their major project ‘Going Public’.
  • •    Models for touring and lending, with a keynote presentation from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on their dispersed exhibition ‘Hadrian’s Cavalry’, and new research from the Touring Exhibitions Group.
  • •    Partnerships and collaborations, with case studies, Q&A sessions and a discussion workshop. Speakers included Imperial War Museums, the DeMorgan Foundation and the National Trust, Tate, and Two Temple Place.
  • •    Innovation and experimentation, with case studies, Q&A sessions and a discussion workshop. Speakers included the Freemasonry Museum and Leeds Museums & Galleries.
  • •    Practice, skills and logistics, with participatory workshops, funding case studies and presentations from the Arts Council England and the Art Fund, and practical advice surgeries on loans, the Government Indemnity Scheme, managing risk, registrarial work and touring exhibitions.


Delegates, speakers and audiences from afar held a lively conversation on Twitter throughout the day. Join the conversation using the hashtag #proactivelending, or review a selection of tweets online 

The full programme can be viewed in PDF format 

Select presentations from the day can be found below:

Better Borrowing: Results and Recommendations from the TEG Lending and Borrowing Experiences Survey (Charlotte Dew, Touring Exhibitions Group) 

Sharing works of art in the UK (Helen Cooper & Laura Murphy, Tate) 

Get what you give: new ways of working (Jamie Andrews, British Library) 

Avoiding conflicts of interest (Jenny Judova, Vastari) 

Going Public: How can regional art collections work more effectively with private collectors? (Museums Sheffield) 

Hadrian's Cavalry (Bill Griffiths and Lisa Keys, Tyne & Wear Museums & Archives / Minerva Heritage) 

Freemasons where you didn’t expect them – finding potential for loans from a ‘specialist’ collection (Mark Dennis, Library & Museum of Freemasonry) 

The healthful influence of art (Ruth Martin, Leeds Museums & Galleries) 

Collections Trust (Sarah Brown, Collections Trust)