The Government Indemnity Scheme, often called GIS, is an indemnity scheme that supports UK museums by providing an alternative to commercial insurance. GIS provides government-backed cover against loss or damage to art or cultural objects borrowed by UK museums from private lenders or from non-national museums and galleries in the UK or abroad.
GIS exists for the public benefit. It aims to enhance and widen access to objects of scientific, technological, artistic or historic nature. Objects that are being borrowed and covered by GIS can be for public display (temporary or long-term) or for research purposes.
GIS covers the objects during moving to and from the borrowing museum, while in storage at the borrowing museum, installation, display and dismantling of exhibitions.
There is no charge to the borrowing museum to access GIS cover.
Who manages the scheme?
GIS is administered by Arts Council England (ACE) for the whole of the UK on behalf of Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the Scottish Government, and Welsh Assembly.
In short, those wishing to apply for the indemnity need to apply through ACE.
Any non-commercial museum, gallery or library can apply through ACE for GIS. You do not need to be an Accredited Museum to apply.
Borrowing institutions need to demonstrate that they meet certain requirements around security, environmental control, and standards for packing, transport and display. The requirements are detailed in the published guidelines for National Institutions and Non-National institutions on ACE’s website.
The process to get cover in place can take time and should be factored in to planning; typically, an application will take three months to process.
Objects not covered by the scheme
- Objects that have a market value of less than £1000
- Interactive objects
- Works for sale on the open market
In the event of a claim
Essentially GIS cover would mean that the lender would be restored to the same financial position in the event of loss or damage to the object that has been loaned. This is based on current market value of the object(s) that were covered by GIS. A small percentage contribution is required from the borrowing museum in the event of a claim:
Minimum Liability: non-national borrowers must meet the cost of any claim up to a limit of £300 for each object, plus one per cent of the total value of the object if that object is valued at £4,000 and above. The purpose of this minimum liability is to encourage appropriate and effective care, responsibility and stewardship and to eliminate small claims on the Secretary of State.
UK National Institutions are not dealt with in the same way as non-nationals, and should contact ACE directly to discuss involvement in lending or borrowing activity.
Take a look at the Arts Council England's web resources about GIS
View the video from MGS' Sharing Collections Symposium (June 2017) featuring Carol Warner, Manager of the Government Indemnity Scheme, speaking about the Scheme and Claire Robinson of MUSA sharing her experience of using the scheme.
To contact Arts Council England directly about the scheme, email firstname.lastname@example.org