Diploma in Law and Collections Management

A diploma course for museum professionals

Diligent management of collections and claims is vital to museum professionals. This specifically modelled training programme offers expert teaching in the legal issues of collections management. The programme focuses on the practical and pragmatic use of legal tools to improve the running and development of museums, their collections and their collaborative exhibition programmes.

    By the end of the course you will:
  • recognise what can go wrong including physical hazards and legal entanglements;
  • be familiar with essential sources of law as they affect cultural objects and institutions;
  • understand how to read and write agreements;
  • know how to detect and intercept legal embarrassments and make the most of the safeguards the law has to offer;
  • comprehend ethical principles that bear upon the management of museum collections.

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The course will run London from 7 to 11 October 2019.

For those who need to miss the day of teaching on Wednesday, 9 October 2019 for religious reasons (Yom Kippur), we will be able to provide full recordings and slides from the day’s presentations.


The London course will once again be kindly hosted by Boodle Hatfield LLP in London.


This course is designed for museum administrators and officials, and other arts professionals, and requires no pre-existing knowledge of the law.


The course is assessed through an oral presentation that will take place at the end of the course. A 3,000 word dissertation is also due several weeks following the conclusion of the course. IAL will provide all documentation, and award a Diploma of the Institute, the Diploma in Law and Collections Management.


The course is delivered over a five-day period and combines formal seminars and orchestrated discussion groups.

The course is led by IAL Assistant Director Alexander Herman and Senior Researcher Emily Gould. Guest lectures will be provided by experts throughout.


The cost of the Melbourne course is $2,500.00 AUD (+GST). The cost of the London course is £1,560.00 (£1300.00 + VAT). Discounts available for the London course for IAL members (and UKRG members).


“Overall it was absolutely excellent and an invaluable course.” (Interim Head of Collections Management, National Museum Wales)
“Overall a truly wonderful learning experience… Really enjoyable, pitched at exactly the right level and left me feeling confident in myself and excited to get back to work!” (Loans coordinator, British Library)
“The course was amazing. I’m very grateful for the presenters and their knowledge. The subject matter was broad and interesting.” (Collection manager, Museums Australia)


(Subject to slight change)
Day 1: Guiding Principles for Collections Managers: framing and phrasing agreements; how a well-devised contract can avoid future pitfalls; the vital role of record-keeping; planning for the resolution of opposing positions among lenders, claimants and museum authorities.

Day 2: Acquisitions, Loans and Bailments: how a museum can acquire title in an object, contractual protections in situations of sale and loan; legal issues in assembling revising and upgrading collections; the gift vs loan problem for museums; how the law of bailment applies to museums.

Day 3: Intellectual Property and Collections: copyright in artistic works and other museum objects; protection of photographs of objects in a collection; dealing with works in the public domain; the duration of copyright protection; exceptions protecting users of copyright material, such as fair dealing; moral rights of artists.

Day 4: Restitution and Repatriation Claims: how a museum should respond to a claim for the return of an object; which ethical guidelines need to be followed; what is the larger international framework that exists to combat the trade in looted cultural property; the particular situation of Nazi-looted works of art and human remains.

Day 5: Case studies, enacted scenarios, drafting exercises and experiential learning; oral assessments.

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To apply for the London course please download an application form here and return the completed form to jo.crabtree@nullial.uk.com.