The GIS allows the public access to objects within the UK which might not otherwise be available, by providing borrowers with an alternative to the considerable cost of commercial insurance. It means that a museum, gallery or library can arrange to borrow objects from non-national institutions and in the event of loss or damage, compensation will be paid to the owner by the Government. Therefore the Government, rather than an insurance company, carries the risk.
The GIS can cover loans whilst they are in transit, to and from the borrowing venue, storage, setting up, display and dismantling i.e. nail to nail. It enables thousands of objects to be exhibited around the country and in cash terms it has real value. At a notional rate of 0.5%, a common commercial insurance premium, it saves museums around £5 million a year. Most importantly it facilitates loans, and allows bigger and better exhibitions and long-term displays, giving the public further opportunities to see a wide range of objects in museums, galleries and libraries throughout the UK from Culloden to Croydon.
The GIS has covered many major exhibitions in the UK, notably those of the work of Poussin, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Canaletto, Monet and Van Gogh, as well as German Expressionists, French Impressionists, modern American artists and of course British artists ranging from Turner, Gainsborough, and Constable to Spencer, Hockney, and Whiteread.
The GIS is not fine art biased and does not only cover loans from the UK and this is reflected in the enormous range of objects that have been indemnified. These include icons from Bulgaria, mosaics from Italy, dinosaurs from China, sculpture from India, gold from the Ukraine, electric bulb installations from the USA, carpets from Persia and teapots from England.