Loans to exhibitions

How to borrow works from the BnF ?
The Bibliothèque nationale de France conserves a large number of documents, works and objects (manuscripts, printed matter, prints, photographs, drawings, maps, plans, musical scores, coins, medals, costumes and globes) covering all fields of knowledge and artistic creation.

Prior to request

Before making a request to borrow items from the BnF’s collections, exhibition curators should check whether or not alternative solutions are feasible making use of other collections that are less in demand.

Exchanges with the various collection departments concerned by the request determine how fully it is examined. Curators are requested to make appointments with the managers of collections called upon in order to specify and finalise their selection of items. Preferences on how works are to be presented must also be stated and possibly discussed during such preparatory visits.

Finally, a loan request’s exactness and definitive character are the best guarantees of its admissibility during its examination by the Library’s decision-making bodies.



Making a request

The official loan request letter must be sent, by post only and at least 8 months before the date the exhibition opens, to the President of the Bibliothèque nationale de France:

Ms Laurence Engel
President of the Bibliothèque nationale de France

Loans Office
58 rue de Richelieu
75084 PARIS Cedex 02

Administrative and material deadlines for processing request submissions cannot be reduced, in particular for requests from institutions located outside the European Union, which require completion of special administrative and customs formalities.

Request content

The name of the institution requesting the loan and of the exhibition project leader (exhibition manager and/or curator(s)).

  • Exhibition title.
  • Dates, venues and details if the event is a travelling exhibition (if the calendar has not been finalised, at the very least the exhibition’s total duration should be indicated for reasons of preventive conservation).
  • The list of works with their shelf numbers and conservation departments.
    • For iconographic documents (prints, photographs, drawings, etc.), items requested must be fully identified by provision of a good-quality visual or accurate bibliographic references (catalogue raisonné, microfilm or photographic print number). For further details on identification of iconographic documents at the BnF, please contact the curators of the collection departments concerned.
    • For bound documents, curators must also specify the page at which they wish to open the volume on its stand.
  • The exhibition concept.
  • The exhibition factsheet and specifications for BnF external loans. English versions are available for information, only French versions forms will be accepted: fiche de renseignements and cahier des charges 
  • Exhibition conditions at the borrowing institution and, if required, the desired method of presentation (framing or display cabinet in most cases).
  • Telephone numbers and email addresses of all useful contacts (curator, exhibition officer, artwork manager, etc.).

If the event is a travelling exhibition, a grouped request including the various dates, venues and exhibition managers for each venue is required.

In such a case, a factsheet must be completed and specifications signed for each exhibition venue.

Examining the request

Each quarter, the Library’s Loans Committee rules on all official loan requests communicated to the President in regular fashion.

The Loans Committee’s decision will be communicated to exhibition organisers by post, accompanied by the following documents:

  • in the event of a favourable opinion on all or part of the request
    • the letter agreeing to the request;
    • the list of items to be lent, indicating their insurance value, and of any refused items;
    • the loan contract
  • in the event of an unfavourable opinion on the whole request
    • a letter giving reasons for the refusal

Borrower’s expenses and obligations

Costs payable by the borrower invoiced by the BnF

  • Costs of framing and other similar presentation services (encapsulation, showcase assembly, etc.)
  • Costs of protective photographic covers for items.
  • Costs of reproduction of items for use as exhibition catalogue illustrations.

Other costs payable by the borrower

  • Insurance costs for loaned items.
  • Costs arising from packaging, transport and installation of items, entrusted to a company specialising in the transport of artworks.
  • If required, the costs involved in restoring items the BnF has agreed to lend out.
  • Accommodation, transport and daily allowance expenses for the conveyor designated by the BnF.


To be noted
New provisions regarding insurance of BnF loans for external exhibitions

As from the March 2020 meeting of the Loan Committee, the Bibliothèque nationale de France will be implementing a new system governing insurance of its loans to external exhibitions.
Borrowers are henceforth requested to communicate to and have signed by their Insurer the statement that will be provided to them by the BnF along with the loan contract.
Statements must be completed and signed, and sent to the following address:

Service des recettes de la Bibliothèque nationale de France
Quai François Mauriac
75706 Paris cedex 13

or where appropriate by email to:

If the signed statement is not received prior to the transport of items, such transport cannot take place. 



Choice of transport must be approved by the Loans Office, which will communicate specific packaging and transport recommendations to the selected service provider.

Provision and return of works

For conservation reasons, and with the exception of special cases, works may not be exhibited for more than 120 days.

Items are made available to the borrower a maximum of 15 working days prior to the exhibition’s opening. They must be returned to the BnF within 15 days of the exhibition’s closure.

Modification of loan requests

In compliance with BnF external loan specifications, “addition of new items may only be envisaged in exceptional circumstances”.

For any modification, a new letter must be sent to the President of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, with an email copy to the Loans Office, at least 2 months before the date of the exhibition opening. Any change requires the drafting of an amendment to the contract.

Cancellation of the loan or early return

Any cancellation of a loan from the BnF must be communicated to the Loans Office in writing as soon as possible. Costs of processing operations already underway (restoration, framing, protective photographic cover, etc.) are at the borrower’s expense.

Copies of catalogues

The borrower must send the Loans Office as many copies of the exhibition catalogue as there are lending departments, plus an extra copy for the Loans Office itself.



For publication

Requests for reproductions of works conserved at the BnF must be sent by priority post and as early as possible, to the Reproduction Department:

Requests must be as specific as possible, in particular as regards desired technical processes, sending method (normal or priority) and the page(s) to reproduce in bound documents.

For copyrighted works, it is essential to provide the Reproduction Department with the author’s or other copyright holders’ authorisation.

For films, advertisements, etc.

For photographs and other camerawork (including advertising and television), prior authorisation must be requested from the Bibliothèque nationale de France’s competent departments.



Loans Office

The Loans Office is the borrower’s main interlocutor. Its artwork management team is responsible for administrative follow-up of requests and logistic and material organisation of loans.

Bibliothèque nationale de France
DCM / MEM / Exhibition Department

Loans Office
58, rue de Richelieu
75084 PARIS CEDEX 02

Administrative coordination: 00 33 (0)1 53 79 83 97 Delphine Minotti
Manager: 00 33 (0)1 53 79 80 70 Cyril Chazal

Artwork Management Department:

  • 00 33 (0)1 53 79 81 97 Marielel Bonnand
  • 00 33 (0)1 53 79 81 28 Brigitte Robin-Loiseau
  • 00 33 (0)1 53 79 81 00 Sylvie Ferreira
  • 00 33 (0)1 53 79 81 01 Fabienne Besnard