This law gives the state’s museum community a process to establish ownership of undocumented collections, long-forgotten loans, and doorstep donations—property that has long been a burden for many institutions. New York is the 36th state to have a statute to this effect.
Without the law museums and other collecting institutions were without clear, legal guidelines for making a claim of ownership for many objects that might have been deposited at the museum before procedures such as deed of gift forms and short-term loans were utilized. This law establishes a fair mechanism by which museums may resolve old loans and the ownership of undocumented property.
Further, the law requires museums to offer their collection management policies to donors and it prohibits museums from using deaccessioning proceeds for anything other than acquisition, preservation and care of collections.
This article summarizes the main provisions of the law and how you can put it into practice. This information is intended as a summary only. Anyone preparing to implement the provisions of the law should become familiar with the complete document and seek the advice of an attorney if they have any questions.