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HMRC internal manual

Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief

Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief; qualifying exhibitions; exhibitions

S1218ZAA Corporation Tax Act 2009

An exhibition qualifies if it is one which is a curated public display of an organised collection of objects or works considered to be of scientific, historic, artistic or cultural interest. It can consist of a single work or object.

A display is public if the public are admitted to it. This condition is met whether or not the public is charged is charged for admission. A display will still be considered to meet this condition even if visitors other than the general public are admitted for a single or small number of sessions. A small number must be considered in relation to the total number of sessions.

An exhibition will not be a qualifying one if   

  • its main purpose, or one of its main purposes, is sell anything displayed or to advertise or promote goods or services
  • it is organised in connection with a competition of any kind
  • it includes a live performance by any person (except where that performance is merely incidental to or forms a merely incidental part of the exhibition)
  • anything displayed is for sale
  • anything displayed is alive

The restriction on selling relates to the exhibition itself. If, for example, a gallery exhibits a display of new works commissioned from several artists, the fact that those artists may later sell some of the works will not prevent the exhibition from qualifying.

In the case of a live performance “merely incidental” will take its ordinary meaning and be considered in relation to the exhibition as a whole. For example, an exhibition of sculpture could contain a living sculpture in an exhibition of 20 or more objects, a display of historical arms could have a display by a swordsman in one room of an exhibition stretching over several rooms. Although the circumstances of each need to be considered it is likely that these would be considered incidental. On the other hand, if the living sculpture was a famous person, then they are likely to be considered the main object of an exhibition and so not “merely incidental”.