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Safe Collections

In December 2010, the National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, then known as the State Centre for Art Collection Protection, inaugurated the Safe Collections programme.

This initiative is primarily addressed to individual owners of works of art and antiquities, as well as to collectors and Churches of various denominations which have been amassing, often superb, works of art for many years. The standard of documentation for antiquities and works of art, devised by the Institute, allows for easy identification of cultural property lost as a result of crime, natural disaster or mishap. It provides a uniform method for describing works of art or items of material culture with an aesthetic, historical and material value. Please note that this system cannot take the place of professional inventory taking.

The programme relies on the use of identification cards for individual objects. These ID cards (in either their basic or extended version) ensure that an item can easily be identified if it is later lost. Filling out the card and attaching a photograph to it does not require any expert knowledge – it is enough to read the information on how to complete the questionnaire. The Safe Collections ID card has been designed so that everyone can fill one out independently.

Good documentation of antiquities is necessary for their protection –an item recorded in insufficient detail or badly photographed is very unlikely to be recovered and returned to its owner. There have been many cases where artworks discovered and secured by the Police could not be returned to their rightful owners due to inadequate or inaccurate documentation that has made it impossible to unequivocally identify the item in question.
ID cards filled out as part of the Safe Collections programme are intended solely for the owners of the described artefacts. It is only in case of theft, loss or destruction that these records should be submitted to the Police. These cards will form the basis for recording lost items of cultural property in the Police database and in the National Register of stolen or illegally exported antiquities, kept by the National Institute of Museums and Public Collections.

For more information contact Robert Pasieczny at rpasieczny@nimoz.pl

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