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Chamber and committees

Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee


LCM for the Cultural Objects (Protection from Seizure) Bill Letter from Museums Galleries Scotland

Letter from Lucy Casot, Museums Galleries Scotland, to the Convener on 14 February 2022


Dear Ms Adamson,

Thank you for your letter regarding the Cultural Objects (Protection from Seizure) Bill.

International loans are an important mechanism through which museums can facilitate cultural exchange and allow public access to art and objects of international significance. Such exhibitions can also be an important part of the business model for some museums.

The measures introduced in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 provides lending museums with reassurance that objects loaned to UK museums approved under the scheme are protected from seizure through legal action directed by third parties at their government. Without this protection some international loans would not happen.

The proposed Cultural Objects (Protection from Seizure) Bill would allow for extensions to the current protections beyond the current 12 month time limit, in light of the disruption caused by the pandemic. This is a reasonable measure in light of the travel disruption caused by the pandemic, and Museums Galleries Scotland supports this proposal.

As an illustration of the importance of this measure, National Museums Scotland had objects on loan from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for the 2020 Tyrannosaurs exhibition. National Museums Scotland was unable to return these objects within 12 months and there was a 3 month period where the protection had expired. Without allowing for extension, future lenders may be wary to risk repeats of this disruption.

For background, in addition to National Museums Scotland, both National Galleries of Scotland and the Hunterian are approved museums for the purpose of this scheme. In 2018 the Hunterian had 72 objects on loan from Harvard Art Museums protected under the scheme, while National Museums Scotland have also borrowed objects for their 2016 Celts exhibition and their 2012 Catherine the Great exhibition.

Yours sincerely,

Lucy Casot