Many of these “abandoned” items might not be of value to an exhibit
or might not fit the mission of the museum that holds them. Meanwhile,
they occupy storage space that can be at a premium, especially in small
The new law sets out a process for museums to establish that
ownership in specified cases in which a loan period has terminated and
the original lender of the property cannot be found.
Student Kathryn Lenart said Delaware’s museum professionals and
legislators were extremely helpful throughout the process of reviewing
laws, writing the report and suggesting legislation that used Indiana’s
law as a successful model.
“The project took a lot of time, but we had such great partners,”
Lenart said. “We learned that this state’s cultural institutions
represent a vibrant network of dedicated professionals.”
The students also thanked legislators for their work that got the
bill to Carney’s desk. The General Assembly passed the legislation
State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, the bill’s primary sponsor, said he met
with “these very, very impressive students” and learned of the need for
legislation to better protect the state’s cultural heritage.
State Sens. Nicole Poore and Ernesto Lopez, who sponsored the bill in
the Senate, also spoke at the signing ceremony. Poore called the
legislation “a good-sense bill” to help museums use best practices to
operate more efficiently.
“The best bills in Delaware come from our constituents, and this is
an example of a bill that came from our best and brightest students,”
Also at the signing ceremony, the Delaware Museum Association
presented its 2018 Delaware Diamond Award to the students who worked on
the legislation. Team members attending the ceremony were Lenart,
McNamara, Tess Frydman and Sharon Hess; not attending were recent
graduates Sam Christensen and Sara Berndt, both now working in museums
in other states.
The students have already been approached for input by museum
officials in Maryland, which lacks similar legislation. In June, Grier
said, a workshop is being planned to advise interested Delaware museums
on how to implement the provisions of the new law.
About Community Engagement
The University of Delaware cultivates civic-minded, engaged citizens through partnerships that impact communities’ needs. Community-based experiences
are woven into UD’s teaching, research and service activities where
students, faculty and staff apply knowledge and creativity to the
critical challenges facing communities — in Delaware and around the
world. In 2015, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
recognized this commitment, designating UD as a community engaged university, an honor awarded to less than 10% of U.S. colleges and universities.
Article by Ann Manser; photos courtesy of Delaware Governor's Office