Museum Property Disposal Legislation

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					                Legislation Related to Museum Property/Disposal of Museum Property/Abandoned Property – Intro.

Most museums and historical societies struggle with ownership issues related to unclaimed loans and undocumented objects. While the
details vary, individual states have laws in place which address abandoned property. This legislation is rarely relevant to museums since it
often involves the state taking possession of unclaimed property. In the past ten or fifteen years, the majority of US states have passed
legislation specifically focused on museum property. This is very beneficial to museums.

The primary question addressed in this legislation is one of ownership. When a lender is long deceased, heirs cannot be located, or heirs
have no proof of claim; or when the source of objects, after decades in museum storage, cannot be identified, museums can do little without
legislation to protect them from possible liability. Objects cannot be exhibited, treated or removed. Therefore, this type of legislation is
essential for efficient care of collections.

In some states, museum property legislation is part of general property law; some laws are very detailed and others less so. What is always
defined is a process for museums to follow which allows them to claim or eventually dispose of questionable property. This is usually
something like the publication of a notice in local media stating that owners are sought for a certain property. After this is done and a
certain period of time has passed the museum is allowed to take action without fear of liability. More complex laws also allow museums to
take action much more quickly when the object in question needs treatment or its condition poses health hazards to museum staff. Some
state laws specify that when a certain period of time has passed after the presence of an object of unknown source has been documented, the
museum may claim ownership. Some laws also allow museums to claim storage costs when an owner refuses to remove a loan.

Clearly, a registrar should be familiar with the appropriate state law, if it exists, and consider its provisions when writing loan conditions
statements. Obviously, such statements should not conflict with legislation and they may even refer to the terms of the law i.e. ‘unclaimed
loans will be considered museum property after five years’. Consequences to the lender should be clear.

These laws are of great benefit to the museum community and it is well worth the effort to enlist a representative to sponsor a bill in any
state without one. Questions may be raised about the museum’s motivation in sponsoring such legislation so be prepared to answer
questions about the kind of objects involved. These are rarely important paintings or highly valued objects. There are usually decorative
objects or furniture which entered a museum many decades in the past and the owners, if known at all, are now deceased. Encouraging such
legislation is not an attempt on the part of museums to claim ownership of loaned objects. It can be important to explain that current
standards in documentation and lending almost entirely eliminate the creation of new unclaimed property issues. Disposition of museum
property legislation saves valuable resources for museums which are institutions with a mission to preserve and serve the public.

This state list was compiled over time by several different individuals. All references have not been recently reviewed. If the link you
require does not work, please note that you can generally find the text of legislation through your state’s website. Search for topics like:
disposition of museum property, abandoned property, unclaimed property.
                                                   U.S. Old Loan Legislation by State
                                                         Last Updated April 2012
                                              Originally Prepared for 2004 AAM Conference

State         Citation                        Legislation link             Website tips            Legislation Comments

                                                                           Click on Code of
                                                                           Alabama tab and
Alabama       § 41-6-72 to 41-6-75            Alabama statute              search for citation     Applies to State Archives and Museum only

Alaska        § 14.57.200 to 14.57.290        Alaska statute                                       Applies to state museums only

Arizona       § 44-351 to 44-356              Arizona statute              Scroll down to 44-351


                                                                           click next section to
California    §1899 to 1899.11                California statute           read rest of statute

                                                                           select Colorado
                                                                           Revised Statutes and
                                                                           enter citation # in
Colorado      § 38-14-101 to 38-14-112        Colorado statute             search box

Connecticut   House Bill 5355                 Connecticut bill status


District of

Florida       § 265.565                       Florida statute

Georgia       § 10-1-529.1 to 10-1-529.7      Georgia statute              Search for citation



Illinois      chap. 765 § 1033/1 to 1033/50   Illinois statute

Indiana       § 32-34-5-1 to 32-34-5-16       Indiana statute

                                                                           click next section to
Iowa          § 305B.1 to 305B.13             Iowa statute                 read rest of statue
Kansas           § 58-4001 to 58-4013      Kansas statute

                                                                    scroll down page to
Kentucky         § 171.830 to 171.849      Kentucky statute         find .830-.849

Louisiana        § 25.345                  Louisiana statute                                Applies only to Louisiana State museums

Maine            tit. 27, § 601            Maine statute


Massachusetts    chap 200B Section 1-8     Massachusetts statute

Michigan         § 399.601 to 399.613      Michigan statute

Minnesota        345.70 - 345.74           Minnesota statute

Mississippi      § 39-19-3 to 39-19-21     Mississippi statute

                                                                    Scroll down to
Missouri         § 184.101 to 184.122      Missouri statute         184.101

Montana          § 22-3-501 to 22-3-523    Montana statute

                                                                    Scroll down to 704-
Nebraska         § 51-704 to 51-711        Nebraska statute         711

                                                                                            Applies only to certain Nevada State
Nevada           § 381.009                 Nevada statute                                   museums and historical societies

New Hampshire    § 201-E:1 to 201-E:7      New Hampshire statute

New Jersey

New Mexico       § 18-10-1 to 18-10-5      New Mexico statute

New York         § 233-a                   New York statute                                 Applies only to New York State museums

                                                                                            Applies only to North Carolina State
North Carolina   § 121-7(c) and 121-7(d)   North Carolina statute                           museums

                                                                    Scroll down to 47-07-   Personal/Movable Property General
North Dakota     § 47-07-14                North Dakota statute     14                      Provision

Ohio             tit. 33 § 3385.01 -.10    Ohio statute

Oklahoma         *
                                                                                     scroll down to Loans
Oregon              § 358.415 to 358.440              Oregon statute                 to Museums


Rhode Island

South Carolina      § 27-45-10 to 27-45-100           South Carolina statute

South Dakota        § 43-41C-1 to 43-41C-4            South Dakota statute

                                                                                     enter citation # in
Tennessee           § 66-29-201 to 66-29-204          Tennessee statute              search box

Texas               § 80.001 to 80.008                Texas statute

                                                                                     Click “next” for next
Utah                § 9-8-801 to 9-8-806              Utah statute                   sections

Virginia            § 55-210.35 & § 55-210.36         Virginia statute               click "next" for 36

Vermont             VT27 VSA 1151 et seq

Washington          § 63.26.010 to 63.26.050          Washington statute

West Virginia

                                                                                     scroll down to
Wisconsin           § 171.30 to 171.77                Wisconsin statute              Subchapter II

Wyoming             § 34-23-101 to 34-23-108          Wyoming statute

*Pursuant to section 60.683.2(c) of the Oklahoma statutes, a museum is exempted from the provisions of the state’s Uniform Unclaimed Property
Act, but may avail itself to the provisions of the act by complying with its provisions. It is not certain whether the Oklahoma legislature intended a
museum’s use of the provisions under the act to resolve old loan problems.

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