With over 17 million collection items, Museums Victoria is the largest museum in Australia. Museums Victoria recognises the public benefit derived from lending and borrowing between collecting institutions and actively participates in the international loans network in order to complement and enhance the potential for learning and enjoyment for all audiences. Museums Victoria staff undertook an extensive review of policies and procedures in order to apply for approval for protection under the Australian Government’s Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Scheme (PCOL Scheme), established to administer the Commonwealth Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013
(PCOL Act). The PCOL Scheme provides (with some limits) legal protection—immunity from seizure—for Australian and foreign cultural items on loan from overseas lenders for temporary public exhibition in Australia. The Ministry for the Arts also released the Australian Best Practice Guide to Collecting Cultural Material in 2015. The Guide is not a mandatory code. It recommends principles and standards to apply when acquiring collection items and in part for inward and outward loans. In 2016–2017 Museums Victoria staff used the Act and its Regulation along with the Guide to substantially update and formalise previous formal and informal policies and practices, in order to demonstrate its commitment to due diligence endeavours to verify the accuracy of information before acquiring, deaccessioning, borrowing, or lending items. This paper outlines the steps we took and what we have learned since receiving approval as a registered borrower under the PCOL Scheme.
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