Exhibitions and Loans Overview

Exhibitions and Loans

On this page, library staff performing registrarial functions will find links to guidelines to assist with organization and planning of on-campus exhibitions as well as incoming and outgoing loans with other campus locations or organizations outside the university. Faculty and students will find links to information specific to course and teaching exhibits.

Exhibitions provide valuable learning opportunities for students, faculty, and the public by providing a curated display of primary source collections. Exhibitions can vary by exhibition space, size and number of objects included, duration, and/or purpose. Organizing an exhibition is a complex process that requires participation from a variety of stakeholders, which may include local library staff, shared services, faculty and students, the Harvard-wide community, other institutions, and external vendors. Preservation Services has developed guidelines and forms to assist with this process. The guidelines were developed in consultation with these stakeholders and with Harvard Risk Management and Audit Services' Risk Financing and Insurance department and the Office of the General Counsel.

Guidelines for Exhibition Processing & Recommended Timelines addresses the needs of large (5-8 cases and/or 20+ objects), medium (2-4 cases, and/or 15-20 objects), and small (1 case and/or 1-15 objects) exhibitions. Guidelines for Course Exhibitions & Temporary Teaching Exhibitions addresses specific requirements for faculty and students organizing exhibitions involving Harvard Library collections. Both sets of guidelines ensure that work for the exhibition is completed successfully while enabling simultaneous completion of other stakeholder priorities and ongoing work.

During the course of exhibition planning, it is often desirable to borrow objects from other collections to augment existing holdings. Such loans require an extra level of administrative work in order to mitigate additional risks incurred by transporting, handling, and displaying objects outside of their home institutions. For guidelines related to borrowing someone else’s collections for exhibition purposes, or for other uses that entail more handling than personal research activities, see Incoming Loans. To lend something to someone else’s exhibition, see Outgoing Loans.

Questions? Check out our FAQ or email preserve_wpc@harvard.edu.