How to Donate Heirlooms to a Museum


Keep trying if you want to find the right place for your heirloom.
Keep trying if you want to find the right place for your heirloom.
Heather N. Kolich

No matter how much your heirloom means to you, it may not be right for a museum. It might be declined because it's in poor condition, it doesn't fit the museum's mission, or the museum already has similar items.

"All museums have storage and capacity issues," Neill said. "We have collecting priorities, and we're pressed to make the best use of our resources."

If your museum of choice declines your heirloom, consider offering it elsewhere. State archives collect diaries, letters, maps, photographs and some artifacts. Living history centers might use your heirloom to educate and entertain visitors. It could also be suitable for a memorial.

Related Articles


  • American Banjo Museum. "Donating Items." 2010. (Aug. 19, 2010)
  • City of Greeley. "Greeley Museums Donations and Collections Policy." City of Greeley, Colorado. May 2010. (Aug. 19, 2010)
  • Computer History Museum. "Why can't the museum accept everything? Why weren't my items accepted?" Donate Historic Materials. Step 3: FAQs. 2008. (Aug. 19, 2010)
  • Neill, Susan. Vice President of Collections and Exhibitions, Atlanta History Center. Personal interview, Aug. 23, 2010.
  • Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry. "Donating Items." University of Michigan School of Dentistry. ND. (Aug. 19, 2010)
  • Suchy, Sherene. "Museum Management: Emotional value and community engagement." Conference paper: Intercom 2006. (Aug. 19, 2010)