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Exhibition loans

In fulfillment of our educational and scholarly mission, the MIT Libraries Distinctive Collections lends collections to qualified institutions located in the USA. We are, with apologies, unable at this time to facilitate international loans.

Loan procedures

  • Minimum notice: 12 months in advance of opening date is minimum notice for borrowing artifacts within the USA.
  • Verification: Please ensure that the item/s of interest are held by MIT Libraries 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.
  • Submit loan request: See details below. Submit your request, including your facilities report and floor plan to
  • Review: Our Exhibitions team will acknowledge receipt of the request. The Institute will conduct an internal review of the requested objects, the borrower’s facilities, and the availability of staff resources to administer the loan according to the requested schedule.
    • The object’s condition should be documented and monitored in accordance with the detailed procedures approved by the Libraries.
    • All loan requests will be initially reviewed by the curatorial staff.
    • A conservator must review and approve all outgoing loan requests and must be satisfied that the work will be properly cared for and protected adequately from fire, theft, mishandling, insects, and from extremes of light, temperature and humidity.
  • Loan agreement: Paperwork will be shared with the borrowing institution. A fully executed Loan Conditions and Agreement form and Certificate of Insurance must be received prior to shipping.
  • Digital files: MIT Libraries may provide high-resolution images if we are unable to loan our artifacts. Requests for digital images will be transferred to our Imaging team. The Institute requires 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 the Libraries. The Borrower will be responsible for all direct costs associated with appraisal, insurance, display housing and mount preparation, packing, crating, shipping, and courier travel.
  • Rush: MIT Libraries is prepared to evaluate loans with shorter lead times on a case by case basis. ‘Rush’ fees (e.g. appraisals) paid by borrower may apply.
  • Copyright: Borrowing institutions are responsible for researching and obtaining any necessary permissions from copyright holders.

Submitting a loan request

Your request must contain all the information listed below. Please submit to

Exhibition information

  • Title of the exhibition
  • Name of the Institution
  • Custodial division (i.e. Archives, Aga Khan, Music)
  • Borrowing Institution’s main point of contact, to include telephone and email.
  • A description of the project/statement of purpose
  • number of overall works
  • whether the exhibition will tour; venue(s) and dates
  • whether there will be a catalogue or other permanent record of the project
  • Proposed provisions for shipping and insurance.

List of artifacts

  • Complete description of object to include title, author/artist, date, media, location within collection (i.e. Box, Folder, Lot numbers), online catalogue identification number, and/or location call number.
  • If available, please email digital photos or provide a citation to a published or online image.
  • Exact page opening to be shown if a book, 2-sided or multi-page document.

Facilities report

  • An up-to-date American Alliance of Museums General Facility Report or equivalent information about each exhibition venue should accompany the request.
  • The borrower must provide a facilities report meeting the Libraries’ standards or the Conservator shall conduct a physical inspection of the borrower’s premises.

Floor plan

  • Include floor plans and recent environmental (temperature and humidity) readings for all display/storage areas.
  • Temperature and % R.H are needed. The Library typically expects all loan objects shall 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.

Please submit your request, including your facilities report and floor plan to