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Centre national des arts plastiques

Managing an artwork on long-term loan

Management of long-term loans by the borrower

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The inventory : A program for the conservation and documentation of the works

Within the Cnap, since 1996, the inventory programme tracks collection long-term loan artworks and art objects. The inventory is drawn up in partnership with the institutions that have works on long-term loan and their supervisory authorities. The Cnap’s curators and documentation officers provide them with information and advice, and contribute to develop resource documents for the proper management of long-term loans.
Each inventory programme includes inspecting the works and the location where they are held, taking photographs, and updating the work records. Accordingly, photographic and technical documentation on the works seen is developed on-site.

Works on long-term loan are subject to condition reports that may result in recommendations to the borrowers pertaining to a possible restoration work or preventive conservation measures. In fact, long-term loan beneficiaries are required by law to send an annual report on the works on loan each year. To assist with this process, the Cnap’s services have published condition report templates to fill in for each work (available for download on the right).

Using inventory books (computerised since the 1990s) and purchase files (artists, museums, etc.) held at the Archives nationales, documentation officers are in charge of updating the records in the management base of the collections, and establishing the list of works that need to be looked for in the institutions that have works on long-term loan, city by city. In 2012, almost 75% of the works had been inventoried. This work is part of the general inventory of the works of art on long-term loans led by the Commission de récolement des dépôts d'œuvres d'art (C.R.D.O.A.).

Sometimes, further research is required in addition to the inventory. This pertains to the history of the works: previous restoration works, changes in locations, loans. With the help of the long-term loan beneficiaries, registrars often have to refer to existing documentation and perform certain checks, in particular on the works found during the course of the mission. The officers in charge of administrative follow-up ensure the final mission report is established and sent to the C.R.D.O.A., who will then pass it on to long-term loan beneficiaries.

In the post-inventory period, long-term loan beneficiaries are called upon to look for the works that have not been shown during the mission, register a complaint in case of theft, ensure the implementation of the actions recommended by the Cnap (restoration works, conservation measures, etc.).

Any disappearance or theft imperatively requires the descriptive and photographic documentation on the work. It is therefore necessary to contact the Cnap before registering a complaint with the police.

The advantage to registering a complaint is that the documented work that has disappeared will be registered in the Office Central de lutte contre le trafic des Biens Culturels (OCBC)’s Thésaurus de recherche électronique et d’imagerie en matière artistique (TREIMA II base), also maintained by the group OVNAAB (pour objets volés de nature artistique d'antiquité et de brocante) and its JUDEX base. A complaint thus makes it possible to potentially identify inalienable and imprescriptible works.

In addition, an email-based alert system ( has been developed by the Ministry of Culture and Communication. It serves to notify various workers in the fields of security and culture via email when a work has disappeared.

Dernière mise à jour le 26 May 2016