Collection Research Policies

image of ancient Greek and Roman vases in a glass case image of ancient Greek and Roman vases in a glass case

The Lowe Art Museum’s collections are made accessible to students and faculty of the University of Miami, as well as to qualified scholars and researchers, on the Museum’s premises only.  The general public will have access only to that part of the collection that is on exhibition in the galleries.  In making collection objects and documentation available to researchers, priority will be given to the needs of the Lowe’s curatorial and exhibition programs.  In all cases, the Lowe seeks to balance requests for access with its mission to preserve the fragile and rare artwork it collects.

Use of Collections

  • Requests for access to collections objects and documentation, as well as rights and reproduction requests other than media requests, must be made in writing to exp612@miami.edu
  • Research hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00am to 4:00pm by appointment only.  The collections are closed weekdays between noon and 1pm, weekends, holidays, and during exhibition installation periods. 
  • Due to the advance preparation necessary to provide access to the collections, appointments are required and must be made at least one month in advance.  Walk-in appointments generally cannot be accommodated.  If a researcher wishes to view more than 10 works of art, or works of art stored off site, additional lead time may be required. 
  • All visitors not known to the staff are required to complete a Research Request Form and provide a photo ID, which will be photocopied and retained in the Lowe’s permanent collections access records.  In some cases, an acceptable proposal must be presented before objects are studied or reviewed. 
  • Individuals requesting access to the collection must have a legitimate research purpose for using the collection, demonstrate a willingness to comply with collections procedures and security requirements, and be able to complete their work during regular business hours.  The Lowe may deny requests for access to researchers who have previously abused their status or caused damage to artwork.
  • Due to the fragile nature of most objects and their unique research value, general browsing of the collections is not permitted.
  • The Lowe does not make loans from its collection except as specified in its loan policy.
  • Research must be conducted under the direct supervision of collections department staff.  Unsupervised use of the collections is not permitted.  Prior to working with collection objects, researchers will be made aware of research regulations and instructed in the proper handling of objects, if the researcher has been approved to handle objects. 
  • All research and viewing of artwork must be done in the collections department research room.  Due to space limitations, the area is limited to four people at one time.
  • A complete list of works to be reviewed must be provided to Lowe staff at the time an appointment is made.  All objects, including collection documentation, must be retrieved and returned to storage by Lowe collections department staff.  During a research appointment, collections department staff will not be able to provide access to any objects not requested in advance.
  • Due to space constraints and for security reasons, collections department staff may limit the number of objects used by a researcher at one time.
  • For security purposes, researchers may only bring materials that will be used in their research into the collections work space.  Any bags, cases, or other containers brought into the area must be stored in lockers and are subject to inspection when leaving.
  • Ink pens are prohibited.  Only pencils may be used in the vicinity of collection objects.  Permission to photograph objects must be obtained in advance and all photographs taken by researchers are subject to the museum’s Rights and Reproduction Policies.  If a researcher is granted permission to photograph, a Rights and Reproduction agreement must be signed prior to photography.
  • Food, drink, and chewing gum are not allowed in the registration processing area.  Smoking is not allowed anywhere in the museum.
  • It is expected that all researchers, both in-house and visiting, who make use of the collection will adhere to any legal and ethical requirements imposed by the Lowe Art Museum or by the University of Miami, and that they will operate in accordance with the generally accepted ethical standards of the field in which they are working.
  • Collections documentation is provided without warranties as to its accuracy or completeness, and researchers will assume any and all risk in their use of this information.

Use of Collections for Teaching

For works of art on display in the Lowe’s galleries:

  • Faculty from the University of Miami or other colleges and universities may bring their students to the Lowe to view artwork on display, individually or as a class, in accordance with the group tour policy of the Lowe’s education department. 
  • Faculty members are strongly advised to schedule a group tour with the School Programs Coordinator, even if the tour will be self-guided, to ensure that another large group will not be touring the museum at the same time.

For works of art not on display:

  • The Lowe Art Museum makes works of art not on display available to faculty from the University of Miami and other colleges or universities by appointment.  Appointments must be made with the Assistant Director for Collections and Exhibition Services a minimum of one month in advance of the date the class will visit. 
  • Working with the Assistant Director, the faculty member must select the objects to by viewed in advance.  General browsing of the collection is not permitted.  In most cases, requests to provide additional objects during the class visit cannot be granted.
  • Standard hours for class visits are Monday-Friday from 9:00am-4:30pm.  Exceptions for class visits outside of these hours or on weekends can only be made if a collections staff member is available to supervise.
  • Classes must be conducted under the direct supervision of collections department staff.  Unsupervised use of the collections is not permitted.  Requests for tours of collections storage rooms must be made in advance and will only be granted on a limited basis and are dependent on class size and room availability.
  • Class size is strictly limited to 15 students and one faculty member.  For larger classes, the faculty member must split the class into smaller groups.
  • Students may not bring food or beverages into the collections research areas.  All bags must be checked at the front desk in accordance with museum policy.
  • Students may not use computers in the collections research room.  Notes must be taken in pencil; ink pens may not be used around artwork.
  • All objects must be viewed in the collections department research room.  Objects cannot be brought into museum galleries except in cases where the collections research room is not available during the class time.  Objects cannot be brought outside of the museum, including to classrooms.
  • Objects made available for viewing will be handled by a collections staff member, who must be present for the entire class.  Neither faculty nor students may handle art objects. 
  • Prior to the start of class, please allow approximately five minutes for the collections staff person supervising to give instructions to the students regarding these policies.
  • Upon request, images and catalog information can be provided to the faculty member in advance of the class visit.  This information can be posted onto the password-protected Blackboard site for the class but may not be distributed in any other way without written permission from the Lowe.
  • General policies for use of the collection also apply to class visits and exceptions cannot be made.

Access Restrictions

Access to the following collections is restricted:

  • Recent acquisitions will not be made available until they have been completely processed into the collection.
  • Access to certain objects may be restricted due to their fragility, age, value, importance, or at the request of a donor or lender.  Access requests for such objects from scholarly researchers or curators will be accommodated at the discretion of the Director, unless the restrictions are donor or lender imposed. 

The following collections management informaton is restricted and will only be provided if approved by the Director:

  • Names of donors, former owners, or lenders who wish to remain anonymous.
  • Mailing addresses and telephone numbers of all donors, former owners, and lenders.
  • Storage locations of objects.
  • Object values, including purchase prices, appraisals, and insurance valuations.
  • Conservation reports and treatment records.

Written and Telephone Requests

Additional access to information about the collections is available through correspondence and over the telephone.  Research inquiries of this nature will be handled on a first come-first served basis as staff time permits.

Staff is only able to provide research assistance for artists and artwork represented in its collection.  Requests for general art historical research, or for information on artists not represented in the collection, cannot be accommodated.

Rights on Reproducing

See policy on Reproducing and Copying Works of Art. For more information or to schedule a research appointment, please contact the exp612@miami.edu 

Provenance Research 

Every effort will be made by Museum staff to research the provenance of new acquisitions as thoroughly as possible prior to acceptance into the collection. The same will be done prior to the deaccessioning of any object. Such research should include, but is not limited to:  

  • The ownership history of the work of art;  
  • The countries in which the work of art has been located and when;  
  • The exhibition history of the work of art, if any;  
  • The publication history of the work of art, if any;  
  • Whether any claims to ownership of the work of art have been made;  
  • Whether the work of art appears in relevant databases of stolen works; and  
  • The circumstances under which the work of art is being offered to the Museum. 

Museum acquisitions must comply with all applicable local, state, and national laws, most notably those governing ownership and import of works of art, such as the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA), the Convention on the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CCPIA), sanctions enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Since the status of a work of art under foreign law may bear on its legal status under U.S. law, the Museum, in concert with the University of Miami’s Offices of General Counsel and Business Services, shall review relevant foreign laws before acquiring objects governed by foreign jurisdiction. 

The Museum will also conduct thorough research on collection objects prior to agreeing to lend to an international venue or borrower if the provenance of the object may become an issue during export and/or import of the object into or out of a foreign country. The goal of such research is to resolve any such issues in advance to the greatest extent possible; however, careful consideration must be given to lending any object with ambiguous provenance to another museum or educational institution. 

In all instances, the Museum shall carefully balance the possible financial and reputational harm and the potential for legal liability against the benefit of collecting, presenting, and preserving the work in trust for the educational benefit of present and future generations.  

For works acquired pursuant to the above, the Museum shall post identifying information, an image and all facts relevant to the decision to acquire it, including its known provenance, on the Association of Art Museum Directors' website, as well as the Museum's website.  

If the Museum, as a result of its continuing research, gains information that establishes another party's right to ownership of a work, the Museum shall bring this information to the attention of the party, and if the case warrants, initiate the return of the work to that party. In the event that a third party brings to the attention of the Museum information supporting the party's claim to a work, the Museum shall respond promptly and responsibly and take whatever steps are necessary to address this claim, including, if warranted, returning the work. 

United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 

  • The Lowe recognizes UNESCO’s Convention on the Means of Prohibiting the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property as ratified by the United States Senate, and will not acquire any archaeological material or work of ancient art known to have been stolen from its country of origin, or otherwise removed in contravention of the laws of its country of origin, after 1970. 

Nazi Era Provenance Research (NEPIP) 

  • During the Nazi era in Europe (1933-1945), the Nazi regime stole, confiscated, looted, pillaged, and destroyed art objects and other cultural property belonging to private citizens and museums throughout occupied Europe. Many of these works of art were sold to fund Nazi activities, while others were intended for inclusion in Hitler’s proposed state museums or the private collections of high-ranking Nazi party officials. After the war, thousands of works of art were recovered by the Allies and returned to their rightful owners; however, many others were never found or returned. 
  • With the recognition that such works of art may have made their way into the collections of museums in the United States, the establishment of complete provenance, or ownership history, of a work of art has become an increasing concern. Through programs of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) concerted efforts are being made to fully establish provenance for works of art dated to before 1946, and acquired after 1933, which may have changed hands in Continental Europe during the Nazi era. The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal (NEPIP) has been established by AAM to facilitate this research and provide a centralized database of provenance information that is accessible to the general public.  
  • The provenance of any object proposed for acquisition, for which the above may apply, must be thoroughly researched by Museum staff prior to acquisition approval, and the Museum shall not acquire any object whose provenance is clearly questionable. All works of art already in the Lowe’s collection that fall within this time frame have been posted to the NEPIP, and any new acquisitions will also be listed. 

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) 

  • The Museum fully recognizes the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) governing the repatriation of Native American human remains and specified cultural property, and has informed all recognized tribes and cultural groups of the Museum’s holdings in these areas. 
  • The Museum will not knowingly acquire any object whose ownership or legality is questionable, or whose circumstances of collection are not completely legal and ethical, and shall continue to comply with all NAGPRA requirements for disclosure, consultation, and repatriation for any future acquisitions.