Arts Minister Simon Crean
Arts Minister Simon Crean Marc Stapelberg

New bill a long-awaited win for top cultural institutions

MUSEUMS and art galleries in regional areas could soon get access to international exhibits by working with the big state galleries, after new laws about cultural objects passed the Senate last week.

The Protecting Cultural Objects on Loan Act was passed last week, essentially meaning Australian museums now meet, and exceed, international standards for the protection of high value touring exhibits and art works.

Art Gallery of New South Wales' senior exhibition registrar Charlotte Davy said the bill was a long-awaited win for the nation's top cultural institutions.

She said it brings Australia up to the internationals standards which exhibit owners overseas often ask about when agreeing to bring art works and cultural objects to Australia.

Ms Davy said the bill was the result of a three year long campaign by cultural institutions for the new laws, and could see new internationally-renown works toured in Australia as early as the end of this year.

"It was a really exciting milestone for us and everybody in galleries, that the bill has now passed," Ms Davy said.

"We were lobbying for a long time to get these new laws - and they mean Australia will be able to guarantee overseas owners their objects will be protected at better than the international standard.

"We did actually miss out on several potential major exhibitions because we didn't have these protections in place; it was really starting to impact our competitiveness for those exhibits."

She said while state and national institutions would need to get accredited to bring the works here, regional museums and galleries could partner with the state-run groups to bring such works to regional audiences.

"I think smaller regional museums might not have the resource to get approved themselves, but certainly they could partner up with the bigger state agencies, and we could see more international works touring regionally," Ms Davy said.

Introduced in parliament by Arts Minister Simon Crean last year, the bill was passed by the Senate late last week, after an extensive consultation with cultural institutions as well as indigenous representative groups.

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