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Explore the multifaceted reasons why art
collectors choose to lend their pieces to museums,
ranging from enhancing public education and
enriching cultural experiences to fostering artist
visibility and navigating the logistical and tax
considerations involved in art loans.


Henry Traylor Installation.jpg

After attending an art exhibition, a member, new to collecting, asked us about art loans. While at the exhibition, he overheard a couple talking with their advisor about sending their newly purchased piece to a museum—raising the question: Why? We discuss the topic of museum loans frequently with our members, often helping facilitate the loan for our seasoned collectors and educating newer collectors on the benefits and best practices for institutional loans.

Public Education & Enrichment
Few collectors consider sharing their works for public consumption early in their ownership journey; however, those who do say they lend works to museums for several reasons, chief among them being public education and enrichment.

“If we have something that's beautiful and other people get pleasure out of it, that's a wonderful thing,” says Jay Greenspan, PURE member and private art collector. “That’s the whole point of art.”

Fostering greater access to art by sharing a work with a wider audience not only benefits the museum and those visiting it but also allows the curators to develop donor relationships. Institutional loans may also bolster a piece’s provenance and value, all while increasing visibility for the artist.

If you are collecting an artist who represents social issues that are important to you, you are uniquely positioned to help that artist by building strong relationships with curators and museums. Most of all, it can be fulfilling to see an artist, whose message you truly value, gain recognition as their artwork becomes more visible to others.

Of course, loaning requires strong relationships, advance planning, and alignment between museum and collector on how a given piece speaks to the curatorial vision of its temporary destination. There are also logistical concerns to navigate in order to ensure the work will be well protected on its journey.

PURE Art Services helps 
our collectors manage these considerations, as well as their risk, by reviewing their museum loan agreements throughout the year and confirming all the terms necessary are included to protect the collector and their valued piece. This includes a review of shipping and condition reporting protocols, security measures, and even customs handling for international loans. Further, we identify any potential gaps in insurance coverage before the artwork goes on public view.

Navigating The Journey in Today’s Climate
We’ve all seen the news coverage of activists, often climate protestors, throwing paint or tomato soup at high-value works in museums, like The National Gallery in London and National Gallery of Art in D.C. However, this should not deter you from loaning your artworks, as these actions typically center around iconic artworks in a permanent collection, not temporary or private loans. In addition, lenders should be aware they can advocate for additional protective measures, such as framing works with protective acrylic or glass.

Sales vs. Use Tax
Another factor to consider when lending to galleries is the tax implication. For example, unlike sales tax - which a state imposes on sales of tangible personal property within its borders - use tax is applicable when personal property is purchased in one state but intended for use in another. Use tax rules vary greatly by state and some states do not have use tax at all.

“As art prices continued to set new record highs in 2022, collectors and advisors were increasingly focused on planning to minimize taxes when art was bought and sold,” explains Paul Frimmer, Estate Planning Attorney and Partner at Loeb & Loeb.

We’ve seen collectors with connections and relationships offer their newly purchased work to a museum for a period of at least 90 days, because doing so can potentially reduce their sales tax, even if the work ultimately lands at their residence.

Where Will Your Art Collection Journey Take You?
Whatever your motivation, preparing and planning for the future of your collection from the point of purchase onward helps you make strategic decisions about the type of collecting journey you’d like to take. And this might just result in the sort of return on your investment that goes well beyond just maximizing financial value. 

At PURE, our comprehensive, fee-based art collection management services support members with both loan coordination and database management. PURE Art Services helps conduct provenance, condition, and authenticity research on potential new acquisitions, as well as initiate loans to exhibitions, negotiate bequests to major institutions, and organize the documentation necessary for insurance, tax, and preservation purposes. Join the club and learn more about PURE Art Services.​

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