Thursday, 7 July 2016
Pascal Querner Researcher, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Austria
My backgrounds; Conservation background qualified with undergraduate in Art History followed by MA in Conservation in 1992 work as a freelance conservator mainly for the National Galleries of Scotland. Also Project Manager of HLF Funded SFF project, Opening Up Scotland’s Archives for the Scottish Council on Archives. I’ve been a member of UKRG for 4 years and two years ago volunteered in Registrars Department at National Galleries of Scotland to gain more experience and completed the Diploma on Art Professional Law and Ethics in 2014
Pascal started his talk with brief introduction about himself and said that he loved art but loves pests more. The talk continued at a fast pace with lots of good humour to keep you alert and take in all the information. Pascal explained the term Integrated Pest Management which many people will be familiar with, however, useful to have bullet point references. We focused on how pests are transported into gallery and museum environment and lastly responses to pest problems. Reiterating several times throughout the presentation that Prevention is the best approach to pest management.
All museums and galleries should have an Integrated Pest Management Programme which will centre on Prevention, Monitoring and if necessary Treatment.
There were some people sitting in the room didn’t think their museum or gallery had pests but according to Pascal every environment will have some present as Museums and galleries as they provide a food source, a warm and protective environment and offer safety from their predators. It’s fairly easy for pests to get into building, if’s it old they are probably already present, but they come through doors, windows, holes in the floorboards or skirting boards. Often they are unwittingly transported by visitors or in new acquisitions or borrowed objects and paintings for exhibitions. Pests can be unintentionally moved around the museum and offsite when objects and packaging materials are transported. A good point made by Pascal that it is not only old museum objects but modern art that can also have pest problems.
It’s something we can’t ignore as pests don’t only damage the art or museum objects, but are a health risk for museum workers, visitors and an environmental hazard.
Obviously, prevention is the long term solution to avoiding a pest problem and if possible appoint a pest management coordinator who will be responsible for continuous monitoring of pests, sealing the building and reducing the chances of entry, climate control, training staff, oversee good housekeeping and cleaning practices. If pests are found they need to be identified, locate the infestation and evaluate the problem and selecting the best treatment method.
Pascal showed a slide of a flow diagram depicting the five stages of control measures and their relationship. It’s taken from Agnes Brokerhof’s work on IPM and clearly illustrates the assessment and management of Pests Risks in Collection.
Identification is paramount and we saw slides of hugely magnified insects, reminiscent of a 1950’s B movie where giant cockroaches were taking over the world.
In the past a method of controlling pests involved the use of Pesticides. It is not recommended as a long term solution as there can be serious health risks. – Pascal knows of 2 incidents of death as the result of long term exposure to pesticides. There is also a high risk of damaging and causing corrosion of art material due to pesticides.
What do we do when we discover pests?
If you do find anything, isolate it immediately and then think about your options. The video clip shows a picture (with a new wooden frame) on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland. As you would expect there was a condition report sent with the picture and a conservator at NGS checked the paperwork and object. During the exhibition, warders at NGS noticed powder on the carpet which turned out to be frass. The Pest Management Officer at NGS, Keith Morrison was alerted and when he examined the picture he noticed a very small black hole and something was moving. He grabbed his iPhone and using his handheld magnifying glass recorded the woodworm making its first appearance into daylight.
The picture was immediately removed from the Gallery and isolated. All pictures were thoroughly examined, but none other were contaminated. The owners of the picture were contacted and it was agreed to return it to them for treatment.
Pascal advocated the use of a nitrogen chamber or tent, however, the downside is it takes 5 weeks to complete the treatment. It is a specialist treatment and has cost implications. A somewhat cheaper and very effective alternative and widely used treatment in the UK is freezing. I asked Pascal a questions, ‘is it safe to use a nitrogen chamber with all museum objects and paintings?’ Pascal said that there can be a change to the pigment Prussian Blue which can be reversed. Nitrogen can in some cases contribute to growth of microorganisms with nitrogenase enzymes that help fix nitrogen as a fuel source. More research is needed in this area to clarify this potential issue.
Freezing is another very popular treatment and cost effective.
Safe for almost all organic and composite materials, relatively time-efficient and a low cost after initial investment for freezer.
Unlike, using a nitrogen tent or chamber, preparing objects for freezing does not entail extensive staff training or staff time for maintenance during procedure.
Speaking as a conservator, care should be taken with fragile, composite or unstable materials and recommended to seek advice from an expert. The type of freezer is important, ideally reducing the temperature to minus 29 degrees centigrade within 4 hours. Typical low-temperature treatment for infestation involves freezing for a minimum of 72 hours, several older publications recommend repeated freeze/thaw cycle(s) as a precaution, but recent work indicates that one longer treatment at a low enough temperature should suffice.
After removal from the freezer, objects should be allowed to acclimate to room temperature, still completely wrapped, until they are at room temperature, at least 24 hours.
Near the end of the presentation, Pascal focused on something which will be of particular interest to exhibition registrars. It was various examples of pests entering the museum environment on materials used in the transportation and protection of objects, including new picture frames.
Wood pallets used to carry and store art objects. Infected with a beetle and this can transfer its attention to the museum object. This has occurred around ten times in Pascal’s career.
Textile Blankets, used to wrap objects and painting. Can be infected with the common cloth moth. Think about using synthetic blankets or have a policy to clean and freeze the blankets once or twice a year.
Transportation boxes – 12 months’ life cycles of a beetle, very quick and can affect an object or painting in storage – includes new wooden picture frames. Please see short film.
It’s important to always be alert and aware.
Must have active monitoring – just like monitoring RH and temperature.
Any new acquisitions must be checked for pests before they are stored next to existing parts of the collections.
Pascal Querner gave a very good and entertaining introduction to Integrated Pest Management. He has many years of experience working as a pest management consultant and was able to give real life examples of pest problems and was very happy to answer questions from the audience. He concluded his presentation by reiterating that IPM is a long term programme, and not any good only doing it for one year. The next IPM Conference will be held in September 2016 in Paris at the Louvre, and he hopes that some of the audience will be attending.
Pascal recommends reading ‘Integrated Pest Management for Cultural Heritage’, by
David Pinniger. Published by Archetype Publications Ltd (9 Mar. 2014)
More information can be found:
Thank you to UKRG for giving me a bursary towards the cost of attending the 2016 European Registrars Conference in Vienna. I would also like to thank, Keith Morrison at the National Galleries of Scotland for discussing the IPM work at NGS including Duff House.
By Audrey Wilson BA(Hons) in the History of Drawing & Printmaking, MA in Conservation.
Dip APLE (London)
Monday, 4 July 2016
European Registrars Conference 2016 - The transformation of the condition report: from colour-coded pens to digital media
Jennifer Hefner Head Registrar of the American Federation of Arts, Co-Founder of Articheck, USA
Jennifer started by introducing the background to the development of the Articheck tool, the progression from the analogue to the digital. She has managed an ever increasing amount of paperwork including the condition report during her career.
The condition report records an army of things and acts as a historical timeline for the evolution of the work. There are no requirements for who can complete these reports and no international standards for a template. There is a subjective component as the specialism the reporter has will bias their interpretation of the object.
Despite this, the form of the condition report has remained consistent over the last few decades.
Noting changes on photographs is routinely used for example, colour coding changes with pens. However, these annotations can often be difficult to interpret. Highlighting can obscure the detail itself on the image. There is often no dates or initials for context and copying degrades the detail.
There is the issue of documentation retention. What is the long term answer? Digitalisation, deep storage, perhaps destruction after a set number of years?
In an attempt to move forward from paper based reports she had started using PDF Expert to scan reports and produce digital copies but these were not easily editable and required manual entry.
There was a lack of audit trail.
Annika Erikson had already been developing a new app during her time as a Paper Conservator at the Tate. An ambitious loan programme there with limited resources had led to the need for a rapid entry system which she had started to develop and at this point Jennifer and Annika joined forces to found the company.
White Cube Gallery undertook testing of the app. They found a stand analogue report took 45 minutes but with Articheck this was reduced to just 10 minutes. They also undertook surveying work. The majority of those surveyed were interested in going digital if it saved time!
The mobile app works offline but wifi is needed for uploading to the cloud. CMS (collections management system) data can be migrated to Articheck account and categorises can be tailored. You have an annotation pallet to choose from and a language function for translation.
You can highlight areas of damage after picking the annotation you want and they do not obscure the detail within the image. Popup windows can be added for notes. Reference images can be embedded and the report will be generated and saved in the individual or institutions account. There is a legal audit trail once completed and it will be signed and dated and locked. New layers can be added but these will also be signed and time stamped. Reports can be shared by creating user permissions for external clients.
Condition reporting in the digital era!
Cloud based applications such as Collector Systems. Tagging of objects allowing environmental data to be collected in transit and linked into the Articheck programme automatically. The use of jpg image comparison software with embedded measurement tool allowing changes to be tracked.
Jennifer packed a lot into her short slot so for further details do check out www.articheck.co.uk . It is a very attractive and clever system with plenty to recommend it for ease of use, storage solutions and data security/sharing possibilities. As someone working within a medium sized museum service, with a CMS which includes conservation tools I am not sure paying for this system and running it alongside our other database is the way to go. I do think it can tell us a lot about how to develop our own systems and for those who do not already work within a fixed frame work the usability and comprehensive nature of this tool could prove very beneficial, helping speed up workflows and increasing the information held on individual objects.
By Fran Coles ARC, Conservation & Documentation Manager, Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives
Veronica Castilla, Head of Collections and Exhibition Services, M+, Hong Kong
At the last day of the Conference in Vienna we received a brief but inspiring presentation of the museums and art galleries sector in Asia by Veronica Castillo.
Veronica was a former registrar at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid from 2001 to 2011 and since 2012 she became Head of Collection and Exhibition Services at M+.
M+ is the new museum for visual culture in Hong Kong focusing on 20th and 21st century art, design, architecture and time based media. The museum will open in 2019 and is part of the exciting new project of the West Kowloon Cultural District which will be one of the World’s largest cultural quarters, blending art, education and public space. If, like me, you cannot resist in discovering more about it, you can find further information on their website.
Veronica wished to tell us her experience and difficulties in Asia from the perspective of a former European registrar. Moving from an established and collection rich museum such as the Museo Reina Sofia to a young one which built its own collection of approximately 5,000 items in the past 4 years would have been a big change for all of us. The major difference that Veronica experienced was the lack of clear museum roles, not just at M+ but in the rest of Hong Kong and Asia. The profession of a registrar was completely unknown and she soon found out museums and also the government in Hong Kong was not willing to change their highly hierarchical and bureaucratic system.
All people working in public museums are civil servants on a rotation service. This means everyone in museums enjoy playing different roles switching from security guard to curator, administrator or conservator without having any relevant qualifications or work experience. Also, believe it or not, it seems that everybody working in museums is addressed as curator!
After the first shock, Veronica has been working in the past four years trying to spread the understanding of the importance of specialised museum roles across Asia. She met with lots of other museum professionals in Hong Kong, China and South-East Asia and again she saw that the term “registrar” and its tasks were alien to them. Most of a registrar's duties were carried out by administrators with no training or special requirements.
The situation for collections care was not much better but luckily in Hong Kong the university has now started providing courses for conservators to support museums.
New associations have been created in the past years to provide training, network opportunities and professional standards in museums such as:
There is not an official association for registrars yet but a group called Asian Registrars is born.
Asia is a new player in the museums sector but I am sure it will mature quickly.
Obviously all suggestions are very welcome and they can be done at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Good luck, Asia!
By Greta Casacci, Assistant Exhibitions Registrar, National Galleries of Scotland
Sandra Sykora, Lawyer, Art Historian, Switzerland
This talk seemed like a great opportunity to compare the different approaches to loan agreements, which as Registrars many of us deal with on a weekly if not daily basis, but probably don’t have the time to sit down and analyse comparatively in great numbers.
Sandra started by making clear that the content of her presentation was observational and not exhaustive. She had received 44 samples from 20 different countries prior to the conference, the loan agreements had been submitted by different types of institution (art handling companies, universities, foundations and museums) and varied in length from 1 to 10 (!) pages.
The first interesting point that Sandra made was that in Anglo-American, or common, law loan agreements are not considered legally binding, they can’t be “contracts” as no money is exchanged. This perhaps explains why some large UK National Museums don’t regularly use loan out agreements. Under European, or Civil, law loan agreements are legally binding.
Sandra found that some organisations were happy to share their loan agreements, and these tended to be the same who displayed more of their loans policies, decision making criteria and terms online. Some private institutions seemed to discourage lending, and were reluctant to share their agreements.
One thing which was highlighted by some Registrars as part of the research was that they wouldn’t be able to accept their own loan out agreement terms if they were borrowing – the conditions were too strict and in their own loan in agreements these were relaxed quite considerably. This raises questions about reciprocity and whether we’re asking for far too much from our borrowers.
Sandra questioned whether loan-in agreements were needed at all if the trend showed that most lenders liked to determine the conditions of the loan, holding the power in that relationship. There are perhaps individuals, artists and private lenders who wouldn’t have their own paperwork, though, where loan-in agreements would be more suitable.
Many of the loan out agreements which Sandra has analysed covered the same topics: the basics of the loan, transport, display, packing and shipping, insurance or indemnity, environment and termination.
For the clauses determining object care, many lenders made use of these to control the borrower environment. The majority of agreements referred to standard museum environmental conditions, some reflecting the Bizot guidelines, where some gave very specific parameters they needed the borrower to meet.
Sandra cautioned against blandly accepting the insurance conditions stipulated by a lender without first checking that this matches your own insurance coverage, as a borrower, and what you are able to provide. Some lenders had stipulated specific brokers in their agreements and the majority asked for “nail to nail” cover – Sandra had seen this terminology in a loan agreement dating back to 1924 so this is pretty standard and longstanding wording in the museum world!
The presentation closed with the following key tips:
- Be specific about the who/what/when/where
- Ensure there are no contradictions within the text!
- Use English as the language of the agreement, or at least provide an English translation so that your agreement can be understood internationally
- Try to avoid terms that the borrower can’t possibly fulfil, particularly to do with environment and insurance, and bear in mind that reciprocity is key to all good museum lending relationships!
If we can all at least remember these last few points when negotiating with borrowers during our loans out conversations this should help to encourage a stronger, more sustained approach to lending within the sector.
By Becky Rhodes, Registration Manager, Science Museum Group
Dr Abigail Harrison-Moore, Head of the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds
Jen Kaines, Registrar and Collections Manager, Leeds Museums and Galleries
Laura Walsh, Registrar and Display Technicians Manager, Royal Armouries
The second talk of Friday’s ERC programme was given by Dr Abigail Harrison-Moore, Jen Kaines (Leeds Museums and Galleries) and Laura Walsh (Royal Armouries), who delivered an informative and inspiring talk about a programme that they set up over 5 years ago to provide more training opportunities for Registrars. The fully funded and salaried position offers an individual professional training at both National and local authority museums, whilst studying for a PGCert in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Leeds. At present, there is no other professional training for people hoping to pursue a career in the museum sector, or as a registrar, and this traineeship is particularly unique because it is tailored to meet the professional needs of the selected individual.
The traineeship was created through a collaborative partnership between Leeds Museums, Royal Armouries and the University of Leeds, to help the chosen trainee develop the skills required to be a registrar: combining theory with practice. The programme is mutually beneficial to the trainee and the museum sector as it offers professional training in many different fields. When the trainee eventually enters full time employment, they will arrive with a breadth of experience that they can apply to the museum.
The talk kicked off with a discussion about the profile of the registrar: an overview of what a registrar does and the skills that a registrar needs. The speakers addressed the challenges that they faced when setting up the programme, with the initial problem being the accessibility of the role of a registrar. Abigail explained that whilst most people know what educators and curators do her students and even museum professionals aren’t sure what the role of the registrar is. The lack of knowledge about registrar work is problematic in terms of training. One of the aims of the training for the future programme is to develop the profile of the registrar in the context of the museum, both on a national and international level.
Each speaker discussed the different strands of the programme that they oversee, and how they bring their area of expertise to the training. Over the course of the year, the trainee works at a national and local authority museum, and they learn about the different museum models, their needs and the constraints. Abigail discussed the challenges she had faced when coordinating the university programme, and that she needed to be responsive and continually reassess the content so that it was relevant to what is going on in the museum world. This is also essential so that that the trainee can apply the theory to their museum practice. The tension arises because typically universities don’t offer flexible learning, so this is part of the programme that will need to be reviewed.
We were shown a video which included interviews with past trainees, all of which have since secured full time positions in museums and galleries.
Abigail, Jen and Laura agreed that recruiting for the position has been challenging. At present, there aren’t a diverse range of applicants for the post, and 80% of those that applied last year were white British. This again reiterates the problem surrounding the profile of the registrar. The present educational system in the UK doesn’t teach young people about museums, and in turn, they don’t know that registrar posts exist. The only way to challenge this is to start educating children from a diverse range of backgrounds about museum work at an early age. Going forward, Abigail, Jen and Laura will continue to reach out to younger people who are still at school with the hope that they can build a child’s knowledge about museum practice, recruit them to the programme and diversify the type of applications that they receive.
Because the existing partnership is between three organisations, the funding model is complex and diverse, and there is a need to generate more money in order to make the programme sustainable. When the panel opened to questions at the end of the talk, it was evident from comments and feedback that there aren’t any other salaried training programmes available throughout Europe. Everyone agreed that it’s imperative that this specific training programme is maintained and continues to operate, with the hope that one day it can expand. The reception from this talk was extremely positive, and it was very encouraging to hear that three individuals are working so hard to provide such a valuable training opportunity and that they are trying to raise the profile of the registrar in the museum profession.
By Phoebe Newman, Exhibitions and Displays Coordinator, Dulwich Picture Gallery
Julia Voss – Art Department Head, Franfurter Allssemeine Zeitung, Germany
On the second day of the conference I attended the fascinating talk by Julia Voss asking us to think about what visitors need to know about the world of art, galleries and museums that might present museum professionals and visitors alike with moral questions and dilemmas.
Most visitors to our museums and galleries might assume that each work has been placed in an exhibition after a long curatorial reasoning. However, as registrars we know that the location or inclusion of an object in an exhibition may be due to the environment, lender’s conditions, the size of the work, security arrangements, what it is made of etc. So even on a very fundamental level, there are ‘behind the scenes’ elements that the public are not aware of that might dictate how an exhibition is curated or how objects are displayed. However, there are also other less straightforward reasons as to why certain works may be included in an exhibition.
Julia also identified two ‘species’ of the art world – the majority of people who interact and inhabit this world are the public or public minded bodies. Their perception of cultural organisations is of enlightenment, for education and for the good of everyone. This majority take the front row, as it were. Then there are the minority of those who interact with the art world, those who see the works as financial investments and for their own personal interests. The visitor doesn’t get to know about his side of art, but should they? Julia argues that yes, visitors should be made aware of who owns major works of art and how inclusion of them in an exhibition or event can impact on the financial value of works.
When work is displayed with the label ‘Private Collection’ it gives the lender anonymity and visitors are not aware of any conflicts of interest or added value that is being given to the art. Julia cited that in the United States in 2015 private museums received a letter from the Senate stating that all private museums founded by banks, art dealers etc. were to provide the government with details of opening hours, visitor numbers and access to collections. These letters were prompted by a newspaper article questioning the right of private museums to receive tax exemptions regarding their role in serving the public. The question that arises is that are private collectors using the guise of public welfare to turn their collections into private wealth? By displaying your collection in the form of a public gallery are you making it more financially valuable?
For the Venice Biennale http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/news/22-11.html major collectors lend large installations of art. Is this with the intention of nurturing their value? Using the art like the stock or assets of a company being nurtured on the markets? If so should the work be displayed at art fairs instead of public exhibitions? If the financial markets are determining the contents of exhibitions, then the visitors should be aware of why they are shown certain collections and not others. In some cases, lenders may be lending for tax exemptions or to raise the profile and therefore to raise the kudos and value of the work.
Julia argued that the public should know who lends major works of art, so that they know who owns the work and the potential motives behind the loan so that the public can make an informed choice about which exhibitions they visit. It would also make sure the lenders were transparent about their practises and use of art. I wondered if elsewhere in Europe there are Codes of Ethics for museums and galleries, such as the UK MA’s code http://www.museumsassociation.org/ethics/code-of-ethics and how strictly they are enforced?
To give this talk further context I attended the showing of the documentary Beltracchi – The Art of Forgery, http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/0/32608939
which explored further the ethical dilemmas that face the world of art, galleries and museums. The prolific forger Beltracchi argues why is it wrong for him to make forgeries when everyone benefits – the art critic and academic have new material to study, the expert and art dealer make a profitable commission fee, the collector has fantastic art to put on the wall and the Beltracchi can make a living. You are almost seduced into his argument before you realise it is ethically wrong and dishonest.
The film highlighted the shadier side of the art market and how there are definitely people involved who do not put the public benefit as the first priority of their activities. Food for thought for all registrars when negotiating loan contracts…..
By Lyn Wall, Registrar, National Museums Scotland
Florian Schmidt-Gabain, Attorney, Switzerland
I was personally interested in attending this session as while I work in exhibitions I have not had to deal with copyright clearances and requests for a number of years. So I thought this would be an opportunity to refresh my memory in this complex field!
The talk kicked off with questions surrounding online reproduction. Schmidt-Gabain prompted us to consider what, if any, permissions are required? The answer 'there are no specific rules' and ‘usually approval is required’ BUT it is worth knowing that 'many privileges apply'. These include:
Ø Catalogue privilege
Ø News privilege.
If in doubt over whether permissions are required or afraid to proceed without the approval, Schmidt-Gabain suggested contacting the RMO (Rights Management Organisation) but bear in mind they are not always neutral as they represent the authors and artists. Interestingly, Schmidt-Gabain also added it is worth consulting with a lawyer. If you do not have access to a lawyer in your organisation look to see if there are other organisations where you can share this resource, pooling together in this way can be an efficient as well as powerful approach when organisations are experiencing similar CR law issues, or obstacles affecting the use of images.
How to obtain photographs
Schmidt-Gabain proceeded to the next key topic of options for when obtaining photographs, for which there are two main options:
Ø Obtain an existing photograph
Ø New photos possibly taken by the museum.
Obtaining an existing photo usually involves payment for the file and does not require obtaining the right, unless there is some protection over the photo. Obtaining a new photo may involve hiring a photographer; Schmidt-Gabain stressed a contract with the photographer should be set up so that the museum becomes the owner of All the rights.
Rights to an image can normally be obtained through the artist or RMO. If an artist is represented by an RMO the artist has lost their right to provide approval. When working with a photographer, Schmidt-Gabain posed the question of whether the photographer held their own copyright and responded to this with the following points:
> Photographs for reproduction purposes (Pfrp) usually are not fully protected (2D never, 3D seldom)
> Some countries have a 'mini protection' for Pfrp (for instance Germany)
> When Pfrp is (fully or mini) protected approval from the artist and photographer is required.
Consequences of a work being protected
Where a work is protected, the author holds the exclusive right to decide whether to permit the work to be shown. This right also bears on the freedom to change the work.
Schmidt-Gabain elaborated with the example of Damien’s Hirst’s A Thousand Years, 1990. The well known work comprises of cows head, blood, flies and maggots all encased. Schmidt-Gabain suggested that if an alternation such as swapping the cows head for a pigs head for instance, then such alternation to the work would require approval by the artist / the artist’s estate.
Another interesting example was the Niki de Saint Phalle Estate. The Estate stipulated that with the restoration of this artist works should only be carried out by their approved conservator to ensure complete likeness.
Schmidt-Gabain also briefly touched upon catalogue reproduction, with the principle that reproductions for the catalogue require approval, if protected. Adding in Switzerland there exists a special catalogue exemption.
At the end of this insightful presentation we were reminded on the key points to consider when working with a reproduction or looking to obtain on:
> Is CR law relevant?
- only when an artwork is protected.
Conditions of protection
1. Time: artist alive or not dead for more than 70 years
2. Intellectual creation
3. Individual character
By Sam Cox, Tate
Ernst Ploi, Attorney-at-law, Austria
It’s all in the words.
I camped out in the Great Hall during the ERC as this was where all the speeches and discussions on loans and insurance were going to take place. These are topics I’m not overly confident on and here was a chance to spend entire days being bombarded with useful and invaluable information - glutton for punishment I know!
Most of the loan agreements I work with are long term and historic. Whilst digging around in the files I’ve come across half page documents with little more than lender and item details (generally not the signed versions either!) and 10 pages of legalese. So when a session was describing its self as “loan agreements are becoming more and more comprehensive and complicated. Does this have to happen?” I’ve seen the paperwork that proves the first part and with many of our loans to private individuals who don’t speak ‘legalese’. I was keen to know if there really had to be pages of Terms and Conditions to a loan.
Ernest Ploil spoke of how previously one or two sentence clause have mutated into wordy multiple paragraphs. Where once a phrase along the lines of ‘the borrower will do everything to look after and care for an item’ was sufficient, it is now the ‘Borrower must do this and this, but not that and if they inform the lender first, in writing then that might be allowable’.
And that’s just the traditional stuff – what about the new things? Immunity from seizure clauses were never considered before and now add more details. It’s no longer appropriate to simply say that the lender signs over reproduction rights, the details of which rights and how the images can be used must be outlined and agreed.
By the end it felt like the answer to ‘does it have to be this complicated’ was that whilst the Terms and Conditions are over lawyered and even passed from document to document the answer is a begrudging yes…
…But perhaps in the future we may see consistent and simpler loan agreements.
Collection Registrar, National Trust.
European Registrars Conference 2016 - Immunity from Seizure and Due Diligence: What Registrars need to know
Freda Matassa, Director, Matassa Toffolo Ltd., Art Collections Management, UK
For anyone not yet familiar with the oft-heard term due diligence, Freda Matassa provided the reassurance that as part and parcel of being a registrar, this was something you would be doing every day, following professional practices and rules. It is a term widely used in the banking and commercial world, but is equally applicable to the role of the registrar. The whole point of due diligence is that if something goes wrong you have documented evidence that you can go back to that demonstrates that your museum acted appropriately.
Freda set out what due diligence means for a registrar in the context of loans and objects.
The ICOMdefinition of due diligence is that all the required endeavors have been undertaken “to establish the facts of a case before deciding a course of action, particularly in identifying the source and history of an item offered for acquisition or use before acquiring it.” This therefore applies not only to acquisitions but to exhibitions, loans out, old loans and to deaccessions. Obtaining provenance information is required when a museum is borrowing items from abroad and it is intended to use GIS and Immunity from Seizure, and equally when lending items to other institutions provenance details will be supplied. For old loans, a museum should have a policy to research these to obtain more provenance information. For the deaccessioning processes a museum must carry out due diligence to ensure that it is clear on what the conditions were for the acquisition of the item. In the museum context, if something goes wrong, we can fall back on the fact that the proper processes were followed. The key requirements are that we seek to know the history of an object and are seen to be acting in an ethical and transparent way. This is not always easy but a museum has a duty to try and find out, and if unable to obtain full information, that the museum acts honestly and transparently and publishes details of items with doubtful provenance on its website.
Freda ran through the key laws and conventions that registrars need to be aware of, one of the most critical being UNESCO 1970 whereby after 1970 archaeology and ethnography items must have a valid record of export. It is good practice for your museum to indicate compliance with these key laws and conventions on your website. They include:
- UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property;
· UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage
· UNIDROIT 1995 Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (Rome, 1995)
· CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
· UK Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003
· UK Treasure Act 1996
- ICOM Code of Ethics
- ICOM red list
- MA Codes of Ethics for Museums
- Washington Principles 1998
- Terezin Declaration 2009
- Combating Illicit Trade: Due Diligence Guidelines for Museums, Libraries and Archives on collecting and borrowing Cultural Material (DCMS, October 2005)
- Statement of Principles issued by the National Museum Directors Conference on “spoliation of works of art during the Holocaust and World War II period” in 1998
For international loan agreements a museum needs to provide a statement that it is an ethical organisation, provide assurances that the loan will be returned, that proof of provenance will be required from the lender, and indicate that it has a procedure to deal with any third party claims.
Freda went on to consider Immunity from Seizure, defining it as a legal guarantee that an item borrowed from another state will be returned. There were a number of reasons why an object might be seized:
· non-payment of debt (as happened in the Noga case where Noga had a claim against the Russian government)
· A descendant of a family whose private property had been Nationalised
· Families/countries wishing to recover property looted during the war
· Illegal excavation or export
· Restitution of national cultural heritage – eg ethnography items
Countries with IFS include the US, France, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, the UK and most recently Russia. However it was important to be aware that these do not necessarily provide the same coverage. Some cover state property only, some have automatic cover, some an application process and some a mixture of the two.
Freda highlighted the conditions of the UK IFS and these can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2007/15/part/6
Freda considered the roles and responsibilities of a museum with approved status to offer IFS. Responsibility starts at the top and needs to be embedded throughout the institution. It has to be owned at Director-level, with curators responsible for researching works and registrars responsible for understanding the law and what IFS covers , being aware that some conventions/laws could override IFS, knowing when IFS is appropriate, controlling deadlines for carrying out due diligence and keeping records of investigations. Training throughout the organisation is important and any contracts with freelance curators should clearly state who is responsible for due diligence. The museum must have an ethical loans policy, making it clear that there is a process for undertaking due diligence for acquisitions and loans and that it will publish responses to claims.
Many lenders will automatically request IFS but it is sometimes not necessary and it is important for the registrar to consider whether the item is high risk or not. Freda gave a useful analysis of what represented high and low risk categories. High risk would include gaps in provenance during the 1933-45 period, archaeological objects found or exported after 1970, ICOM red list, items of ethnography and state-nationalized property. Low risk would include objects that have always been in the same country, objects acquired directly from an archaeological site, newly-created objects and commissions, non-unique/low value objects. Freda gave a brief overview of the type of information you needed for research, the research process and the materials that you need. Sources of information included the museum acquisition record, an export license from the country of origin, publication in a reputable source prior to 1970, will/inventory, photographic evidence, family correspondence, auction catalogue entry and receipt of purchase. She made it clear that there is a point at which it is not reasonable to go any further. It is what is reasonable for the situation. Freda also gave advice on how to deal with claims. Have a policy, keep records, be open, report it and publish it. Tell lender their identity may need to be revealed.
Freda finished with a quick round up of some legal cases concerning due diligence and Immunity from seizure:
Bloch Bauer Heirs v. the State of Austria (2004)
Government of Iran v. Barakat Galleries (2013
Moravian Gallery v. National Gallery of Czech Republic and Diag Human (2014)
Kurtha v. Marks (2008)
Project Work Stream Leader: Art Collections Management