The notion of reuse goes to the core of every museum’s mission statement. Items are used for study or display, stored, and then studied or displayed again. Over the course of its life in a museum collection, some objects will be used in a multitude of ways, to illustrate a variety of educational and curatorial premises. Occasionally, collection items are loaned to others. Although this is most often seen when one museum loans items to another museum, there are other options. The Los Angeles Natural History Museum, for example, makes lesser collection items available to the general public through their Members’ Loan Service. For a small fee, anyone with a museum membership can check out specimens for up to two weeks. Similar programs exist at the Field Museum in Chicago and the San Diego Natural History Museum. At Oberlin College, the Allen Memorial Art Museum’s Art Rental Program rents works of art to both students and the general public for up to a semester.
Although LACMA does currently have an Art Rental Gallery affiliated with it, the works available there are not collection items. The gallery operates similarly to a for-profit gallery, with works from local artists available for rent or sale.