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Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2022 10:25 AM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Abandoned Museum Property
In the near future, I will reintroduce Senate Bill 822 from last session, which would allow Pennsylvania’s private and not-for-profit museums and historical societies to establish title to property that has been donated or left with them after a loan period has terminated and the lender could not be found. These non-government entities are not under the authority of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. This legislation will allow more efficient use of museum funds and assist museums in conserving, displaying and, when necessary, ethically disposing of abandoned, unclaimed or unsolicited property. 
Museums and historical societies are faced with ownership issues related to abandoned, unclaimed and undocumented property in their possession. When a lender of property to the museum is deceased or not able to be located, heirs cannot be found or heirs have no proof of claim, or when the source of property cannot be identified, it may be difficult for museums to exhibit, conserve, or dispose of the property without incurring liability. This legislation defines a systematic process for Commonwealth museums to follow which permits museums and historical societies to claim or eventually dispose of unclaimed property while enacting protections and safeguards for rightful owners. 
Frequently, the unclaimed or abandoned property in question is not of high monetary value and was entered into the museum’s inventory many decades in the past and the lenders, if known at all, are deceased. Thankfully, more recent documentation standards for acquisition and lending of property have greatly reduced the creation of new unclaimed property issues. 
This legislation is very important for efficient care of our museum collections and conservation of museum resources and is aligned with recent legislation passed by many other states. 
Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to assist our private and not-for-profit museums and historical societies. 

Introduced as SB228