The Museum Loan Network (MLN) facilitates the long-term loan of art and objects of cultural heritage among U.S. institutions as a way to enhance the installations of museums, thus enabling them to better serve their communities. The MLN grants and its programs have led to the sharing of objects among different types of museums, fostering collaborations between institutions of varying size and discipline throughout the United States. An important component of the MLN is its online directory, an illustrated database of works available for long-term loan from a wide range of institutions. Funded and initiated by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, the MLN is administered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Office of the Arts.
These surveys have focused on various collections from a wide geographic area. In the past, surveys have included our Classical (i.e. Greek, Roman, and Etruscan) collection, Yoruba material culture from Nigeria, our general ethnographic collection from Southern Africa, the J. Eric S. Thompson collection of archaeological and ethnographic Mayan materials from Central America and our collection of material culture from Vanuatu in the South Pacific. More recently we have surveyed our collection of Musical Instruments from the Pacific, the Starr Collection of archaeological material from Tlacotepec, Mexico, and Lower Central America, which includes artifacts from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.