Image: Carol Warner, Manager, British Government Indemnity Scheme, ACE, presenting at the UKRG AGM

Written by Ellen O’Donnell, Assistant Registrar (Loans), National Galleries of Scotland

There was something bittersweet about the fact that Carol chose to spend her last day with us UKRG registrars. The room was full of admiration for her as we remarked on her achievements in her role at ACE over the past 10 years.

We also took a moment to celebrate the value of GIS indemnity with the 6 monthly report reminding us of the significant financial value that is covered and its importance. Despite registrars always striving to be risk-averse, it is reassuring to know that the safety net of GIS is there to support us in the (few) instances where GIS claims are made. We celebrated the 100 million pounds that was saved through the indemnity that both keeps our collections safe and facilitates access to more publics.

Carol went on to detail some GIS updates. Perhaps of most importance is the new application form for Non-National Institutions that launched on the 23 October 2023. The main change of note is the inclusion of two new questions; requesting your accreditation number and a description of any actions that have been taken to limit the environmental impact of the loan. Interestingly this form has not had any substantial changes since its creation in 2012. Previously the form had a strong emphasis on environmental concerns. The hope is that this version achieves a better balance of addressing environmental and security concerns. Carol was eager to thank those involved for their efforts in the testing and piloting of this new application form.

A few other quick updates of note included a reminder to be vigilant in receiving environmental readings for the first week of a loan out. This is so that if there are fluctuations or other issues, these can be addressed quickly rather than having to stop the indemnity entirely. Similarly, Carol reminded us that the temperature parameters, suspended since last winter, continue to be suspended. Additionally, although time consuming and with its own associated risks, sea freight has always been an acceptable alternative method of transport.

The final notice from Carol, was that there is currently no indemnity for objects containing ivory. The reason for this is it is impossible to insure objects without an obvious market value. Placing an open market value on such contentious material is difficult. As such, the advice is to remove these objects from your applications until ACE receive guidance. Further updates are expected after the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs meet on 23 November 2023.

Image: Valentina Sabucco, Manager, Security and Protection Advice, ACE, presenting at the UKRG AGM

Valentina then cautioned those in the room to remain vigilant following recent protests in exhibitions in London. She urged us to reassess our risk assessments and review any vulnerable works that may be targeted because of their content, provenance, history or the exhibition’s sponsorship. Writing this now a week later, these warnings were well founded, with the protestors smashing the glazing of Diego Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus, a work associated with the Suffragettes’ protests in 1914.

Valentina discussed thefts across the UK that have also been receiving media attention recently, explaining how the stolen objects tend to be small, portable, low value pieces whose materials can be melted down and resold. It appears that social media challenges are fuelling enthusiasm for such thefts.