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Exhibition loans

In fulfillment of our educational and scholarly mission, the MIT Libraries lends Distinctive Collections (DC) items and materials (e.g. DC items or surrogates) to qualified institutions located in the USA. We are, with apologies, unable at this time to facilitate international loans.

Please note

  • Minimum notice: 12 months in advance of the opening date is the minimum notice for borrowing items within the USA.
  • Rush: We are prepared to evaluate loans with shorter lead times on a case by case basis. ‘Rush’ fees (e.g. appraisals) paid by you, the borrower, may apply.
  • Digital files: We may provide high-resolution images if we are unable to loan items from our collections. Requests for digital images will be transferred to our imaging team. We require eight weeks to fulfill requests for digital images to be used in print and electronic formats, including exhibition catalogs and publicity materials. Carefully consider all editorial deadlines and allow ample time.
  • Fees: There is no loan fee to borrow from us. You will be responsible for all direct costs associated with appraisal, insurance, display housing and mount preparation, packing, crating, shipping, and courier travel.
  • Copyright: You are responsible for researching and obtaining any necessary permissions from the copyright holders.

Loan procedures

1. Verify holdings

Please ensure Distinctive Collections hold the item(s) of interest and make note of all relevant bibliographic information, including call numbers, box and/or folder numbers, etc. Direct questions regarding collections and content to Ask Distinctive Collections.

2. Submit loan request

Submit the form below, then email the following to Please note, if the exhibition is touring, we need facilities reports and floor plans for all venues.

  • Facilities report
    An up-to-date American Alliance of Museums General Facility Report or equivalent information about each exhibition venue is required.
  • Floor plan
    Include floor plans and recent environmental (temperature and humidity) readings for all display/storage areas. Temperature and % R.H are required. We typically expect all loaned items will be displayed in areas or cases where the temperature does not fluctuate more than five degrees from 70º Fahrenheit and where the relative humidity can be held at 45 +/- 5 percent.
  • Digital photos of items to be borrowed
    If available. You may also provide citations to published or online images in the form below.

3. Wait for review

  • We’ll acknowledge receipt of your request within five business days.
  • We’ll then conduct an internal review of the item(s), your facility, and the availability of staff resources to administer the loan according to the requested schedule.
  • Before approving any loan request, we must be satisfied that the item(s) will be properly cared for and protected adequately from fire, theft, mishandling, insects, and from extremes of light, temperature and humidity.

4. Complete loan agreement

Paperwork will be provided to your institution to complete – a fully executed Loan Conditions and Agreement Form and Certificate of Insurance must be received prior to loaning.

Submit a loan request

    Contact information

    Exhibit information

    Provide a complete description that includes title, author/artist, date, media, location within collection (i.e. Box, Folder, Lot numbers), online catalogue identification number, and/or location call number, as well as the exact page opening to be shown if a book, 2-sided or multi-page document. If available, provide a citation to a published or online image of the material(s).

    Reminder: we need facilites reports and floor plans for all venues.

    Will there will be a catalogue or other permanent record of the project?*