Exhibition loans

The Bodleian Libraries lends items from its collections to public exhibitions in libraries, museums and archives around the UK and the world. All loans are administered by the Exhibitions Department.

Loan requests should be received by the Bodleian Libraries a minimum of six months before the exhibition opens. Please note that many loan requests come in up to two years ahead of an exhibition, and space in the loans programme does fill up quickly. Potential borrowers are encouraged to submit their requests with as much notice as possible.

Preparing your loan request

Potential borrowing institutions should research their requests in as much detail as possible prior to submitting their loan request. Useful resources for researching the Bodleian Libraries’ collections include:

For requests of particularly significant items, requests for large numbers of items, or if the specific item or page opening is still to be identified, it is recommended that potential borrowers discuss the loan proposal with the relevant curator at the Bodleian Libraries before submitting their formal request.

Please note that the duration of any loan from the Bodleian Libraries is usually 3–5 months.

Download our exhibition loan conditions  

What to include in a loan request

All formal loan requests must include the following information:

  • The title of the proposed exhibition
  • The venue at which the exhibition will be held
  • If different from the venue, the name of the organisation that will be responsible for the exhibition and will be the legal ‘borrower’
  • The dates during which the exhibition will be open to the public (which should be as specific as possible – ‘Month until Month’ is acceptable, ‘Autumn 2022’ is not)
  • The full, correct shelfmark (identification number) of the items being requested, along with the page number or folio to be displayed (in the case of books and manuscripts)
  • A short explanation of the relevance of each item to the overall exhibition
  • The name and contact details of the person responsible for loans at the venue

Submitting your loan request

Loan requests should be submitted as a formal letter addressed to:

Mr Richard Ovenden OBE Bodley’s Librarian
Bodleian Libraries
Broad Street

Request letters may also be emailed, in PDF format, to richard.ovenden@bodleian.ox.ac.uk, with a copy sent to exhibitions@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Assessment of loan requests

The assessment of all loan requests is managed by the Exhibitions department. Loans are assessed on the following criteria:

  • The physical condition of the item requested and its suitability to travel
  • The availability of the item (ie whether it is already promised to another loan or research project)
  • The curatorial relevance of the item to the exhibition
  • The capacity for staff to facilitate the loan within the existing programme of loans and exhibitions
  • The ability of the venue to provide a suitable and secure setting for display of the item

The Bodleian will acknowledge receipt of a loan request as soon as possible after receiving it. They will endeavour to give a provisional response within 6–8 weeks.

Any loan that is given provisional approval at this stage will then be presented as a recommendation to the Curators of the University Libraries for final approval.

Facilities reports

Along with their formal loan request, all potential borrowing institutions should submit recently completed copies of:

  • the UK Registrars Group (UKRG) Standard Facilities Report, AND
  • the UKRG Security Supplement


  • the American Association of Museums (AAM) Standard Facilities Report

We are happy to advise first-time borrowing institutions on the process of completing a facilities report.

Loan costs

A Loan Administration and Preparation Fee is charged to borrowers in order to recover some of the indirect costs of:

  • staff time spent administering the loan
  • staff time spent preparing condition reports and packing
  • basic conservation work to make items ready for loan.

The Fee does not cover:

  • major conservation work (which may be charged to the borrower separately, if the conservation work is being undertaken specifically to make the loan possible)
  • direct costs incurred by the Bodleian Libraries in the course of preparing the loan e.g. acrylic cradles or lecterns, framing and crating
  • courier costs (a Bodleian Libraries' staff member accompanies and oversees the installation of all loans)
  • fine art insurance for the items
  • transport of items and couriers, organised by the borrower with recognised and approved fine art shipping agent

The Loan Administration and Preparation Fee is calculated by the Bodleian Libraries during the course of loan negotiations. It will be provided to the Borrower in the form of an estimate prior to signing of the Loan Agreement.


For any enquiries about loans from the Bodleian Libraries, please contact the Exhibitions and Loans Coordinator, on exhibitions@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.