WA Museum - Claims handling statement for Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan (PCOL)

How the WA Museum handles enquiries and claims in relation to objects it has borrowed from overseas for temporary public exhibition.

The Museum is committed to exhibiting both cultural and scientific objects only in accordance with the highest standards of due diligence (including ethical and professional practice, and in accordance with applicable law).

As part of this commitment, the Museum invites people to contact it if they have a concern about an object either borrowed, or about to be borrowed, from overseas. For example, please contact the Museum if:

  • you wish to make a claim (such as an ownership claim) over an object;
  • if you have any questions about an object; or
  • if you want further information about an object’s ownership or provenance.

We set out below information about our enquiry and claims handling procedures in relation to objects borrowed by the Museum from overseas. Objects borrowed from overseas for display will usually be subject to the provisions of the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (Cwth) (“the Act”), which prevents their seizure as a result of legal proceedings while they are in Australia.

Objects that the Museum is borrowing or has borrowed from overseas and that are subject to the Act are published on our website at least one month prior to importation, and only removed once the object leaves Australia.

What information do I need to provide if I am making a claim or enquiry?

If you wish to make a claim or enquiry, or if you want additional information about an object the Museum has borrowed or is borrowing from overseas, you will need to provide us with the following in writing:

  • your name, address and contact details;
  • if you are making a claim or enquiry on behalf of someone else, that person’s name, contact details and their relationship to you;
  • a short summary of the claim to the object;
  • copies of any documents or other evidence that may be relevant to the claim or enquiry; and
  • a statement confirming that you are aware that the WA Museum may inform the lender of the request and supply them with information on the claim.

How will the WA Museum consider my enquiry or claim?

The Museum will give serious consideration to each enquiry and claim it receives in relation to an object borrowed from overseas, based on the nature and circumstances of each enquiry or claim.

  • In determining whether an enquiry or claim in relation to an object borrowed from overseas and subject to the Act is justified, the Museum may consider, among other things:
  • the documentation and evidence you provide;
  • the documentation provided by the lender;
  • if you are known to the Museum and whether you have already made the same or a similar claim in another country; and
  • in the case of Australian cultural material (and particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material), a close examination of the object’s known provenance and history, including how the object left the custody of any relevant individual or community and the circumstances in which it was exported from Australia.

What response should I expect to get back from the WA Museum?

Where we are satisfied an object’s provenance is established we will provide you with information on the provenance and due diligence procedures we followed.  Such research will be in accordance with the policies and procedures of the WA Museum and is required under the Act. 

As a matter of natural justice, we would give the lender an opportunity to respond to a claim made in relation to an object.  We would thus normally also provide you with an outline of the lender’s response to you claim.

We will also direct you to any additional information about an object available either on our own website, or elsewhere.

Please note, however, that the WA Museum retains the right not to disclose any of the above if we determine that it is not, in all the circumstances, appropriate for it to do so.

How long will it take for the WA Museum to respond to my enquiry or claim?

The Museum will respond to you within 28 days of receiving your enquiry or claim. To assist in a prompt response, please make sure you provide all the details that we will likely need to assess your claim and to accurately identify any information you have requested.

What will happen if the WA Museum determines that a claim I make is justified?

If the Museum determines that you have a legitimate claim in relation to an object before that object is imported into Australia, we will assess whether or not it is appropriate, in all the circumstances, to continue with the loan.  In making that assessment, the Museum will have full regard to its due diligence and provenance standards, set out in our Loans Policy and Procedures.

Please note, however, that once an object has been imported into Australia on loan from overseas, your ability to take legal action in relation to that object in Australia may be limited by the provisions of the Act.  For information on the Act, please see http://arts.gov.au/collections/protection-of-loans

Who do I contact at the WA Museum if I want to make a claim or enquiry?

If you want to make a claim or enquiry in relation to an object that the WA Museum has borrowed from overseas, please address your enquiry to pcol@museum.wa.gov.au

Please note that the information above relates to enquiries and claims relating to the ownership or provenance of an object borrowed from overseas for temporary public exhibition.

For all other comments about an exhibition please use our general form for feedback.


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