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Protection of cultural objects on loan

State Library Victoria is an approved borrowing institution under the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan (PCOL) Scheme.

PCOL and immunity from suit and seizure

The Australian Government's PCOL Scheme was established to administer the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (Cth) (PCOL Act).

The PCOL Act encourages international loans by limiting the circumstances in which lenders, borrowing institutions, exhibition facilitators and people working for them can lose ownership, physical possession, custody or control of objects while they are in Australia.

The PCOL Scheme provides legal protection for cultural objects on loan from overseas lenders for temporary public exhibition in Australia. To be eligible for protection under the PCOL Act, the objects must be loaned by a lender ordinarily resident or incorporated in a country outside Australia or the government of another country, and the items must be imported into Australia for the primary purpose of temporary public display. The items will be protected for two years from the date of import or until the date of export if they are exported before the end of the two-year period.

More information about the PCOL Act and PCOL Scheme can be found on the Australian Government Office for the Arts website.

International Loans

The Library is committed to following best practices when borrowing and acquiring objects. Risks for objects borrowed for temporary exhibition are considered and evaluated as part of due diligence processes undertaken before entering into a loan agreement.

Find out more about the Library's Inward Loans for Exhibition Policy.

Objects that the Library is proposing to borrow from international lenders, subject to the PCOL Act, are published on State Library Victoria's website at least four weeks (28 days) before their importation into Australia. Images and information on the objects will remain on the website until they are exported from Australia.

Enquiries and claims

The Library welcomes enquiries regarding any object that will be or has been imported into Australia by the Library for temporary exhibition. Contact the Library if:

  • you wish to make a claim (such as an ownership claim) on an object
  • if you have any questions about such an object.

To submit an enquiry or claim on an object on loan to the Library under the PCOL Scheme, contact the Library at [email protected]

Information to provide when making an enquiry or claim

To make a claim or request additional information about an object that the Library has imported or is proposing to import for temporary exhibition, 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 documents or other evidence that may be relevant to the legal title claim or enquiry and
  • a statement confirming that you (or the claimant) are aware that the Library may inform the lender of the request and supply them with information on the claim or enquiry.

Consideration of the request

The Library will consider each enquiry and claim it receives in relation to an object proposed for inward loan from overseas, based on the nature and circumstance of each enquiry and claim.

In determining whether an enquiry or claim in relation to an object borrowed from overseas and subject to the PCOL Act is justified, the Library will consider:

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

Response to the enquiry or claim

The Library will promptly acknowledge receipt of a claim or enquiry and provide a response to the potential claimant or enquirer within four weeks (28 days) of receiving the request.

If the Library is satisfied with the nature and circumstances of the request for information or the claim and that it is appropriate to disclose the information, the Library will provide additional information, including:

  • the information published in accordance with the PCOL Scheme publication requirements
  • details on the provenance and due diligence research that was conducted in accordance with the Library's policies and procedures as required under the PCOL Regulation.

If the Library decides to contact the Lender about the enquiry or claim, the claimant or enquirer will be advised.

Claims management and reporting

The Library will manage claims in accordance with the PCOL Act.

Where a claim is made before an object has been imported into Australia, the Library may assess whether it is appropriate to continue with the loan.

Once an object has been imported into Australia, it is protected by the PCOL Act. This protection cannot be revoked, and it protects the object from seizure and legal suit.

For more information on the PCOL Act, view the Australian Government Office for the Arts website.

All claims made on objects that are protected by the PCOL Act will be reported in writing without delay to the Minister for the Arts.

Please note that this information relates to enquiries and claims concerning objects borrowed from overseas. For all other enquiries, please direct your query to Ask a librarian.