Museums exempt as ivory trade ban comes into force
Francesca Collins, Museums Association
June 17, 2022
The UK's new ivory ban has made it illegal to deal in items containing or
made of elephant ivory unless the items qualify for one of five listed
exemptions, including an exemption for Accredited museums.
From 6 June, dealing in ivory may be met with a maximum fine of £250,000 or
five years' imprisonment under the Ivory Act 2018. Dealing encompasses
buying, selling, hiring or facilitating the trade of ivory.
An exemption applies to selling or hiring ivory items to qualifying
museums. The museum buying or hiring the item must be a member of the
International Council of Museums, or Accredited by or on behalf of Arts
Council England, Scottish ministers, Northern Ireland Museums Council or
the Welsh Government.
If an item is owned by a qualifying museum and is being acquired by another
qualifying museum, it does not need to be registered or certified prior to
Four additional exemptions account for:
-- Portrait miniatures made before 1918 with a surface area smaller than
320 square centimetres
-- Musical instruments made before 1975 with less than 20% ivory by volume
-- Items with low ivory content made before 3 March 1947 with less than 10%
ivory by volume
-- Rare or important items, made before 1918 and of outstandingly high
artistic, cultural or historical value.
Individuals can still own ivory for display or for personal use, as well as
being able to give away ivory items as gifts or in a will, provided that no
payment or exchange is involved.
Alistair Brown, policy manager at the Museums Association, said: “We’re
pleased to see the ivory ban come into force, and that the UK Government
has recognised the important role of museums in preserving and collecting
examples of historic worked ivory that are of significant cultural value.
We will continue to work with members to monitor how the ivory ban works in
Around 90% of African elephants have been wiped out over the last century,
largely due to the ivory trade. Only around 415,000 wild African elephants
are alive today.