Many museums and collections are willing to send objects out on loan and there are a number of reasons why they are happy to do this.
Museums want their collections to be accessed, they want people to be inspired and educated and one of the best ways of doing that is by people actually seeing the objects that are being cared for by the museum. The Discovery Centre houses over a million objects and it would be impossible for all of them to be displayed. Having people visit the collection increases access but another way is by loaning some of those objects to other institutions. Museums provide a network all over the country to care for our cultural artefacts and provide resources to the public. Not everyone will store the same thing or have the same resources, so it is important that they support each other in the loaning of objects, enriching what they can provide for people. This facilitates outreach as someone might be willing to go to a local museum but might not be able to travel long distances to see another – sending objects away for a time gives a portion of the collections a wider audience. This can then contribute to a broader understanding of art, history and science, informing people on a limitless number of subjects and how they can relate to their everyday lives – or learning about things that are just plain interesting!
We also want our collection used for research, to help facilitate the progression of knowledge. We sometimes get researchers and students from institutes gathering information from the objects in our collection to contribute to their work. Just this week our Curator of Archaeology posted a blog about the fragment of an Egyptian carved stela that we had had in the collection for many years but did not have much information on. A researcher had referenced it in a paper in 2007 and from that small mention we recently had someone contact us asking for more images. Once they saw what we had they were able to provide much more details on where and when the object was from and what it was a part of. This information will now be added to the label in the gallery, providing more interpretation for the public.