There are many reasons museums participate in a loan process. It is a great way to fill in gaps in a museum’s collection. Maybe the institution does not have the money to purchase/maintain the item itself on a permanent basis. When loans are gained, the museum can promote them as a special exhibit.
There are two types of museum loans: short-term and long-term. Short-term loans are fixed at a certain interval agreed upon by both parties, whether it is a few days or a few months. Long-term loans have a longer agreed duration, commonly months or even years.
Old Cowtown Museum currently participates in both short-term and long-term loans. Two examples of our long-term loans include dental equipment and a family Bible. Two examples of short-term loans include an ox yoke and a Gatling gun.
In the summer of 2016, the museum received a request to accept a long-term loan of dental equipment. Books, bottles, dental instruments, and a dental cabinet were all included in the loan. Ever since, these items have been on display in our dental office in the upstairs of the drug store building.
In the fall of 2017, a donor reached out to gage our interest in receiving on loan a Munger family Bible. With the provenance of the Munger family, the museum accepted this loan. The Bible is currently on display in the Munger House.
The McCormick School Museum has on multiple occasions worked with us on an incoming, short-term loan. They have an ox yoke used by Jesse Chisholm that we have borrowed for a temporary exhibit as well as for museum events.
Most recently, the Museum of World Treasures lent us their Gatling gun for our weekend event “People of the Plains”. The gun was even demonstrated twice during the afternoon.
Loan programs are very important for museums. It is a great way to share collections with other institutions while also temporarily gaining additional items for your own collection.