Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan

PCOL and immunity from suit and seizure

The Australian Government’s Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Scheme (PCOL Scheme) has been established to administer the Commonwealth Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (the Act). The Act was established to encourage international lenders to lend works for temporary public exhibition in Australia. The Act limits the circumstances in which the lender, exhibiting institution, exhibition facilitator, and people working for them can lose ownership, possession, custody or control of an object through legal proceedings or seizure while the object is in Australia. The PCOL Scheme protects all types of cultural objects on loan, including archaeological, artistic, ethnological, historical, literary, scientific and technological objects.

To be eligible for protection under the PCOL Scheme, the objects must be loaned by a lender ordinarily resident or incorporated in a country outside Australia or the government of another country, and the works must be imported into Australia for the primary purpose of temporary public display. The works will be protected from the date of import, until they are exported from Australia.

Further information about the Act and PCOL Scheme can be found on the Commonwealth Ministry for the Arts website.


MAAS is an approved borrowing institution under the Act and is responsible for upholding the integrity of the PCOL Scheme and ensuring that best practice procedures are followed on each borrowing occasion.

Before entering into a loan arrangement, MAAS will conduct due diligence investigations into the provenance of objects to be borrowed. We also undertake due diligence for works acquired into the MAAS Collection.

In compliance with the Act and to ensure transparency regarding protected loans, MAAS will publish information about all objects to be protected under the Act prior to their import and until they have been exported from the country. Information about currently protected loans is provided on this page.

Enquiries and claims

MAAS welcomes enquiries regarding an object that will be, or has been, imported into Australia for temporary exhibition. Individuals wishing to enquire or register a concern regarding an object that MAAS intends to, or has borrowed from overseas for temporary exhibition are required to provide:

  • their name, address and best contact details;
  • the name of the party you are acting on behalf of (if applicable) and that person’s name, contact details and relationship to you;
  • a summary of the inquiry or claim; and
  • copies of any supporting documentation or evidence relating to the claim or inquiry.

Responding to a claim

MAAS will give serious consideration to each enquiry or claim it receives in relation to an object that will be, or has been, imported into Australia for temporary exhibition. In assessing a claim, MAAS may consider a number of factors, including:

  • the documentation and evidence provided by you;
  • MAAS will give the lender the opportunity to respond to a claim and will consider the documentation and response provided by the lender;
  • whether you are known to MAAS and whether you have made the same or similar claim in another country; and
  • in the case of Australian cultural material, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material, a close examination of the object’s provenance and history, including how the object left the custody of the individual or communities and the circumstances in which it was exported from Australia.

MAAS will acknowledge receipt of a claim within 5 working days and will provide a reply to potential claimants and those with a significant enquiry within four weeks (28 days) of receiving the request.

Information provided to a claimant

After considering the request if MAAS finds the claim or request for information to be substantiated and it is appropriate to disclose the information, MAAS will provide you with:

  • information published in accordance with the publication requirements of the scheme;
  • information on the provenance and due diligence research that was conducted in accordance with the Incoming Loans Policy.

If a claim is found to be legitimate prior to the object being imported into Australia, MAAS will consider whether or not to continue with the loan. In making this assessment, MAAS will be guided by the Incoming Loans Policy, the Act, internal MAAS procedures and international best practice. Once the object has been imported, protection under the Act cannot be revoked, regardless of the integrity of the claim made.

To enquire or register a concern regarding an object that MAAS intends to, or has borrowed from overseas for temporary exhibition, please contact: pcol@maas.museum.

Claims and enquiries relating to the MAAS Collection

The information on this page relates to enquiries or claims on objects that have been or are proposed to be imported into Australia for the purpose of temporary exhibition. For any other claims or enquiries, including those relating to objects in the MAAS Collection, please visit our website at Provenance Research at MAAS. In considering claims on objects in the MAAS Collection, MAAS will also be informed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Repatriation Policy and the Restitution Policy.