State Indemnity for Exhibitions

The Museums Act of the Republic of Estonia enables state museums and museums operating as foundations established by the state to apply for the grant of state guarantee of compensation to cover any material damage caused to the owners of exhibition. Insurance of museum object and compensation by state for damage caused to owner of international exhibition is regulated in Chapter 4 of the Museums Act. 



How does it work?

When planning a temporary exhibition containing objects of significant artistic or historical value, the museum can apply for the grant of state guarantee for compensation of damage for the exhibition. The application is presented by the museum’s representative with the right of signature to the Ministry of Culture. The decision regarding the guarantee of the compensation of damage to the exhibition is made by the Minister of Culture.

The aforementioned decision will be drawn up as a ministerial directive, which includes:

  • the name of the exhibition, a list of the objects/artworks comprising the exhibition,
  •  the place where the exhibition will be displayed and the period during which it will be on display, and
  • the extent of the compensatory damages that will be guaranteed.

An English-language translation of the given document which can be certified by a sworn translator, can be organised by the museum applying for compensation for damages.

The compensation of damage to the exhibition may cover the following damage:

  • the costs of restoration or replacement of the exhibition, given that the restauration or replacement of the exhibition is possible;
  • the amount by which the total value of the exhibition evaluated in monetary terms has decreased, provided that it is impossible to restore or replace the exhibition that has been damaged, destroyed or lost.
  • Any damage that occurs from the moment the exhibition/artwork is transferred to the shipper until the shipper returns the exhibition/artwork that is being returned to a foreign country to its owner.

The following damage will not be compensated:

  • confiscation of the exhibition or object by another state;
  • damage that has been caused by normal wear and tear;
  • pre-existing flaws that have occurred in the course of previous restorations or conservations which were not discovered until the period covered by the guarantee of compensation for damage;
  • Damage that has been caused by force majeure. Within the context of this law, force majeure is defined as unforeseen events, such as natural disasters (flood, hurricane), social circumstances (war, strikes, work stoppages), etc. Force majeure refers to circumstances that could not be foreseen and the prevention of which is not in the power of the museum, i.e. the occurrence of the circumstances are unexpected and could not have been reasonably expected to be taken into account at the time the ministerial directive guaranteeing compensatory damages was signed. Damages declared under  force majeure, are assessed on case-by-case basis. The source for the definition of force majeure in Estonia is found in the German law (German civil code Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB)) and international private law framework agreements and contracts (Principles of European Private Law (PECL), Principles of International Commercial Contracts (PICC) and the Convention on Contracts of International Sale of Goods (CISC)).

In situations, where the lender should establish special conditions for the insurance, a combination of state compensation and commercial insurance will be applied.

In addition, the Estonian Museums Act requires that all state museums and museums operating as foundations established by the state have electronic security systems and automatic fire alarm systems installed in the museum depositories and exhibition spaces. The technical and climate conditions of the depositories and exhibition spaces, and well as the organisation of the transport of the museum exhibits must ensure the preservation of the museum exhibits.


Mirjam Rääbis
Adviser (Museums)

Phone +372 628 2335


Last updated: 20 February 2018