The National Gallery is committed to only acquiring and exhibiting works of art in line with the highest standards of due diligence, which is the thorough assessment of a work of art and its current and past ownership. This helps us to evaluate its authenticity and to identify and appraise any gaps in or concerns about its history of ownership and trade. We also consider cultural sensitivities, ethical and professional practice, and applicable laws and conventions.
As a fundamental part of our mission and as an ethical member of the museum community we also research and publish information about the existing collection. You can access ongoing research into the origins and ownership histories, or provenance, of works of art from our collection. We are in the process of assessing and publishing the collecting histories of all works of art in the collection. This will take time and new information will be added as research progresses.
We are keen to hear from you about our collection, so please share your knowledge. If you have any information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is an essential and ongoing part of responsible collection management to continuously review and interrogate the collection. New information about the collection is considered in relation to our policies and procedures, in particular the Due Diligence and Provenance Policy and Provenance decision-making framework. Provenance decision-making at the National Gallery is determined by an evidence-based approach evaluated on the balance of probabilities, anchored in robust legal and ethical decision-making principles and considerations.
For more detailed information on policies relating to acquiring and exhibiting works of art at the National Gallery of Australia, see:
Australian and International Conventions and Best Practice
The National Gallery adheres to the principles of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The obligations and principles under this treaty are reflected in the international and Australian codes of museum ethics that the National Gallery subscribes to. The National Gallery is also subject to Australian legislation including the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. In 2014 the Ministry for the Arts released the Australian Best Practice Guide to Collecting Cultural Material. The guide outlines the legal obligations and ethical standards to which Australia’s public collecting institutions should adhere when acquiring and borrowing cultural material. The National Gallery is committed to ensuring the guidelines are followed.