Protection of cultural objects on loan

The State Library is an approved borrowing institution under the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan  Scheme. Further information about the Scheme and the Library’s responsibilities are outlined below. 

PCOL and immunity from suit and seizure

The Australian Government’s Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Scheme (PCOL Scheme) has been established to administer the Commonwealth Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (PCOL Act).

The PCOL Act was established to encourage international lenders to lend items for temporary public exhibition in Australia. The Act limits the circumstances in which the lender, exhibiting institution, exhibition facilitator, and people working for them can lose ownership, possession, custody or control of an item through legal proceedings or seizure while the work is in Australia.

In order to be eligible for protection under the Act, the item must be loaned to an institution approved under the Act by a lender ordinarily resident or incorporated in a country outside Australia or the government of another country, and the item must be imported into Australia for the primary purpose of temporary public display. Items imported under the PCOL Scheme are automatically protected for two years from the date of import, or until the date of export if exported before the end of the two-year period. It is possible to apply for an extension to the two-year protection period, but extensions are at the discretion of the Minister, or their delegate, and only granted in exceptional circumstances (e.g. To cover a multi-venue exhibition tour, when conservation requirements prevent the export, or when there are significant disruptions to international freight).

Further information about the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act and Scheme can be found on the Australian Government Office for the Arts website.

PCOL and the Library

As an approved borrowing institution under the Act, the State Library is responsible for upholding the integrity of the PCOL Scheme and ensuring that best practice procedures are followed for each loan.

Before entering into a loan arrangement, the Library will conduct due diligence investigations into the provenance of items to be borrowed. The Library also undertakes due diligence for items to be acquired into the collection.

The Library’s policies on international loans and claims handling are covered here:

Incoming Loans for Exhibition Policy

Complaint Handling Policy

In compliance with the PCOL Act and to ensure transparency in relation to all protected loans, the Library will publish information about items to be protected under the Act at least 4 weeks prior to their import and this information will remain published until the items are exported from Australia. Information about currently protected loans is provided below.

International loans

Intended international loans to the State Library of New South Wales for the exhibition Charles Rodius
17 June 2023 – 12 May 2024. 

Intended international loans to the State Library of New South Wales for community engagement and exhibition, wadgayawa nhay dhadjan wari (they made them a long time ago)
7 October 2023 – 5 May 2024

Enquiries and claims handling for objects on loan

The Library is committed to exhibiting items only in accordance with the highest standards of due diligence and ethical and legal practices.

The Library welcomes enquires regarding an item that will be, or has been, imported into Australia for temporary exhibition. Please contact the Library if:

  • you wish to make a claim (such as an ownership claim) on an item;
  • if you have any questions about an item; or
  • if you want further information about an item’s ownership or provenance.

To submit an enquiry or claim on an item on loan to the Library under the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act please contact the Library

Information to provide when making an enquiry or claim

To progress a request for information or make a claim on an item, please provide the following: 

  • your name, address and contact details;
  • if you are making a claim or enquiry on behalf of someone else, that person's name, contact details and their relationship to you;
  • a summary of your enquiry or claim to the item;
  • copies of any supporting documentation or evidence relating to the claim or enquiry; and
  • a statement confirming that you (or the claimant) are aware that the Library may inform the lender of your request and supply them with information on the enquiry or claim.

Consideration of the request

The Library will give serious consideration to each enquiry and claim it receives in relation to an item borrowed from overseas, based on the nature and circumstances of each enquiry or claim.

In determining whether an enquiry or claim in relation to a work borrowed from overseas and subject to the Act is justified, the Library may take into account (and without limitation):

  • if the party making the enquiry or claim is known to the Library;
  • whether the claim has been made in another jurisdiction;
  • the documentation or evidence provided by the person making the enquiry or claim and
  • in the case of Australian cultural material, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material, close examination of the object’s provenance and history, including how the object left the custody of the individual or communities and the circumstances in which it was exported from Australia.

Expected time frame for feedback

The Library will acknowledge receipt of a claim or enquiry about an item borrowed from overseas within 7 working days and will provide a reply to potential claimants and those with a significant enquiry within four weeks (28 days) of receiving the request.

To assist in a prompt response, please make sure you provide all the details that the Library will need to assess your claim (as outlined above).

The Library will advise you if we intend to contact the Lender about your enquiry or claim.

Claims management and reporting

The Library’s management of a claim will comply with the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act, 2013 (the Act), considering the information supplied and the status of the loan.

If the Library determines that you have a legitimate claim in relation to an item before it has been imported into Australia, the Library will assess whether or not it is appropriate, in all the circumstances, to continue with the loan. In making that assessment, the Library will be guided by information from the claimant, subject matter or legal experts, the Lender, our Incoming Loans for Exhibition Policy and a consideration of acceptable level of risk.

Please note, however, that once an item has been imported into Australia, it is protected under the Act from seizure and legal suit and this protection cannot be revoked.

For further information on the Act, see Australian Government Office for the Arts website.

The Library will also report claims made on items that are protected by the Act to the Minister for the Arts in writing and without delay.