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Found In Collection: How Maryland’s New Abandoned Cultural Property Law Can Help Your Museum

Though Maryland’s 2020 Legislative Session was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s museum community won a major victory with the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 88 governing the stuff of a museum registrar’s nightmares: abandoned cultural property. This includes orphaned collections, doorstop donations, old loans, or found objects within the collection that have unclear ownership, some of which have haunted institutions for decades.

Under current law, abandoned cultural property cannot not legally be loaned, conserved, displayed, or deaccessioned without written consent or title transfer from the original owner. Going into the 2020 Session, Maryland was one of only four states without a statutory process in place for museums to efficiently clear title to abandoned property, but that all will change on October 1, 2020 when SB 88 becomes law. Written based on a law passed in Delaware in 2018, SB 88 creates a transparent, ethical, and efficient way for museums to claim title in those instances where research, public advertisements, and other methods fail to locate an original owner.

But what does this mean for your institution? How can you make sure you are following the right steps to navigate abandoned property, and what is exempt from the bill? Join MCHC Vice President of Collections & Interpretation, Allison Tolman, for a professional development webinar explaining how this new tool can be responsibly used at your museum or library. She will be joined by Dr. Katherine Grier, Professor Emerita of History at the University of Delaware, for insight on the experiences of Delaware museums with their abandoned cultural property bill roll-out, as well as Maryland Assistant Attorney General, Paul Cucuzzella, who represents the Maryland Historical Trust, to answer your questions.

This virtual program is free and open to all audiences. Registration is required. After registering for the webinar, attendees will receive an automated confirmation email with connection instructions.

Before

Before

The Golden Age of Annapolis

After

After

Discovering Benjamin Henry Latrobe