Due Diligence policy
Last updated: January 2009
The National Portrait Gallery’s overall aim (derived from the provisions of the 1992 Museums and Galleries Act) underpins six strategic objectives. The aim is:
… to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture, and …to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media.
Two of the key strategic objectives are to develop the Collection, creating opportunities for acquisition and commission, while improving its care and conservation and to increase the understanding of and engagement with the Collection and its subjects through bringing more of the reference collections into use, and through outstanding research, displays and exhibition, education, access, publishing, information, regional and digital programmes, and a higher national and public profile. The National Portrait Gallery does this to the highest professional and ethical standards and in compliance with all applicable laws.
This policy sets out the principles regarding provenance and provenance research to which the National Portrait Gallery adheres when considering any acquisition or inward loan and complies with the principles set out in Combating Illicit Trade: Due Diligence Guidelines for Museums, Libraries and Archives on Collecting and Borrowing Cultural Material (DCMS 2005). In addition, this document is supplemented by the National Portrait Gallery’s Acquisition and Disposals Policy.
2 Statement of Principles
2.1 The National Portrait Gallery will not accept as a loan, gift or bequest any object without confirmation that the donor, vendor or lender has valid and legal title to retain and transfer the object.
2.2 The National Portrait Gallery will exercise due diligence to establish the legal status of objects under consideration, making every reasonable effort to investigate and clarify the provenance of an object. In practicing due diligence, the National Portrait Gallery will apply high standards to its research into acquisitions, long term loans and exhibition loans.
2.3 Where necessary, the National Portrait Gallery will extend research beyond the information supplied by the vendor, donor or lender in an effort to clarify the history of the object. Further guidance and advice may be sought from external curators in other museums and galleries, specialists, academic institutions and major auction houses.
2.4 The National Portrait Gallery will only acquire or borrow those objects for which provenance has been established or, through presence in the public domain, are judged to have a history that is reasonably secure.
2.5 Information obtained about the provenance of an object should be documented and preserved to ensure the National Portrait Gallery’s ability to respond to public requests and to avoid duplication.
2.6 The National Portrait Gallery recognises that in practice some objects are not always accompanied by detailed histories and that in these circumstances, having taken into account information gathered through the curators’ research which must be conducted according to the National Portrait Gallery’s established minimum standards, best judgment must apply.