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Museums and galleries - loans, donations and bequests

Items exhibited in local museums and galleries may be provided by private individuals either on loan (usually for the duration of an exhibition), as a donation or as a bequest upon the death of the owner.

We make arrangements to receive the items, ensure their safety while on display and (where on loan) their return to the owner. 

If you would like to make a donation to any of our museums or galleries, please contact them directly. In the case of donations, entry documentation will make clear to the donor the purpose for which the object has been collected.

Acquisitions will be pursued by negotiating gifts, bequests, "in lieu" donations, and purchases. Occasionally, loans of exceptional material will be accepted for display purposes only.

Code of Ethics

All acquisition and disposal from collections will follow the Code of Ethics for Museums (2002):

  1. The museum will not acquire, whether by purchase, gift, bequest or exchange, any object or specimen unless the governing body is satisfied that the museum can acquire a valid title to the item in question. In particular, it has not been acquired in, or exported from, its country of origin (or any intermediate country in which it may have been legally owned) in violation of that country's laws. (For the purposes of this paragraph "country of origin" includes the United Kingdom).
  2. By definition, a museum has a long-term purpose and must possess (or intend to acquire) permanent collections in relation to its stated objectives. The governing body accepts the principle that there is a strong presumption against the disposal of any items in the museum's collection except as set out below.
  3. In those cases where the museum is legally free to dispose of an item (if this is in doubt, advice will be sought) it is agreed that any decision to sell or otherwise dispose of material from the collections will be taken only after due consideration. Decisions to dispose of items will not be made with the principal aim of generating funds. Once a decision to dispose of an item has been taken, priority will be given to retaining the item within the public domain and with this in view will be offered first, by exchange, gift or sale, to registered museums before disposal to other interested individuals or organisations is considered.
  4. In cases where an arrangement for the exchange, gift or sale of material is not being made with an individual registered museum, the museum community at large will be advised of the intention to dispose of material. This will normally be through an announcement in the Museum Association's Museum Journal and other professional journals if appropriate. The announcement will indicate the number and nature of the specimens or objects involved, and the basis on which the material will be transferred to another institution. A period of at least two months will be allowed for an interest in acquiring the material to be expressed.
  5. A decision to dispose of a specimen or object, whether by exchange, sale, gift, or destruction (in the case of an item too badly damaged or deteriorated to be of any use for the purposes of the collections), will be the responsibility of the governing body of the museum acting on the advice of professional curatorial staff, and not of the curator of the collections acting alone. Full records will be kept of all such decisions and the items involved. Records will also be kept for the proper arrangements made for the preservation and/or transfer, as appropriate, of the documentation relating to the items concerned, including photographic records where practicable.
  6. Any monies received by the museum's governing body from the disposal of items will be used for the benefit of the collections. This normally means buying further acquisitions, but in exceptional cases improvements relating to the care of collections may be justifiable. Advice on these cases may be sought from Arts Council England.

When a museum object has been acquired with the aid of an external funding organisation, permission from that organisation will be sought before the object is deaccessioned or transferred to another museum.

Acquisitions not covered by this policy will only be made in very exceptional circumstances, and then only after proper consideration by the governing body, having regard to the interests of other museums.

Any changes made to the acquisition and disposals policy and the implications of any changes for the future of existing collections, will be notified to the Arts Council England, North East in accordance with the Museums Accreditation scheme.  

Durham Light Infantry collections are owned by The DLI Trustees and managed by Durham County Council.

Contact us
Customer Services
03000 26 0000
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ