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All Eyes on Art: How the Broad Art Foundation Handles Loans

Lending to museums is a great way to share a collection. To find out how it works, we asked one of the world’s foremost authorities: the Broad Art Foundation. Eli and Edythe Broad established their namesake foundation in 1984 as a lending library committed to making contemporary art accessible to the widest possible audience.

ARTnews: Why did the Broads start their lending library?

The Broad Art Foundation: For more than 50 years, Eli and Edythe Broad endeavored to deepen access to arts and culture in their hometown of Los Angeles and around the world, believing that everyone should have the opportunity to experience artists’ insights into our society and the key issues of these times.

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How does the shipping work? Does the institution always pay for this or does the Foundation sometimes partly subsidize?

The borrowing institution is required to undertake all costs for packing, transporting, handling, and insuring the artworks in transit to and from all venues and during exhibition of the works. The borrower arranges the shipping, but the Broad [museum’s] collections management staff provide guidance and approval through the process.

How does the insurance work? Does the artwork have to be, in essence, double insured [on both the Foundation’s and the borrowing institution’s part]?

The borrower is responsible for insuring the loan wall-to-wall.

God forbid the work is damaged, whether in transit or at the institution to which it’s lent, but if that does happen, what procedures must be followed?

If there is damage to a loaned work, the Broad collections management staff must be informed immediately to assess and determine next steps. The borrower, under guidance of the Broad, would be responsible for costs associated with repair and/or conservation.

What would make the Foundation think twice about loaning work to an institution?

First, we determine if the requested artwork is available. It may be committed to another loan request or on view at the Broad. If available, the fragility and stability of the artwork is considered to determine if it can withstand the rigors of travel. In addition, the borrower’s facility report is reviewed by collections management staff to be sure that the borrower meets the security, temperature, handling, and insurance requirements. The borrower must be able to meet all terms of the loan agreement.

What are the benefits of loaning?

In his relationships with artists, museums, and galleries, Eli found that many large private collections around the world languished in storage, and only rarely could public institutions rival the speed and means of private collectors to collect art at a large scale. The Foundation’s loan program meets these challenges to access.

An artist once told Edythe that he had discovered his calling by viewing art for the first time in his life at a small museum near his home in Colorado. For Edythe, that was “the kind of experience our Foundation could help provide,” and the most gratifying aspect of the Foundation’s mission. The Foundation continues to showcase contemporary art through its lending program: To date, it has made more than 8,700 loans to nearly 600 institutions worldwide, and also made available selected works from the Broads’ personal collection.

A version of this article appears in the October/November 2021 issue of ARTnews, under the title “All Eyes on Art.”

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