The History Museum at the Castle accepts selected donations for its artifact and archival collections. Before we accept an item into the collection, it is reviewed by curators. Not everything is accepted.
If you are interested in donating to the collection, please read the Frequently Asked Questions below, and fill out our Potential Donation Form.
What types of items does the History Museum collect?
We collect items that were made or used in Appleton, the Fox Valley, and Outagamie County. Ideally, we would know where/when/by whom the item(s) were used. Some examples include:
Photographs and video
Books and pamphlets
What types of items does the Museum typically NOT collect?
We usually do not accept:
Newspapers or newspaper clippings
Items from outside our geographic region
How do I donate objects, images, or documents to the collection?
The best way to start is to fill out our online Potential Donation Form, but you can also contact Chief Curator Dustin Mack. The more information you can provide about your item(s), the better. Once your information has been reviewed, a curator will follow up with you, and if needed, schedule an appointment to learn more about your item(s).
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Can I send or bring my item(s) to the museum immediately?
Please submit the Potential Donation Form first. An appointment is needed so a curator can take the time to talk with you and examine your item(s). We do not have staff available to handle unscheduled donations. The History Museum reserves the right to dispose of any unsolicited materials delivered to the museum.
How does the museum decide to accept a donation?
Curatorial staff assess an item’s historical significance to Appleton, the Fox Valley, or Outagamie County, its physical condition, its history of ownership and use, and if we already have a copy or something similar in the collection. The length of the evaluation process depends on the item(s), and the curators’ schedules. The entire process may take a few months, and we thank you for your patience.
What happens to my item(s) after the donation?
By signing our deed of gift, you are transferring ownership of your item(s) to the History Museum, and guaranteeing that the item was legally yours to give. Once the donation is complete, the item is assigned an identification number, cataloged, and assigned a storage place. Our secure storage rooms are climate-controlled for preservation, and all boxes/foam/tissue paper used is acid free archival quality. We care for our collection based on museum industry best practices.
Will my item(s) be exhibited?
We do not guarantee your item will be displayed in an exhibit. Only a small percentage of the museum’s collection is on display at one time. Items not on display are preserved in our secure, climate-controlled storage areas. Your item will also be available to researchers and future exhibitions.
Can the History Museum appraise the monetary value of my item?
No. The IRS considers museums to be an interested party, so we are unable to appraise items. If you would like your item valued, please consult a professional appraiser. The following are resources to find an appraiser:
American Society of Appraisers
Appraisers Association of America
Can I use my donation as a tax deduction?
The History Museum is a 501.c.3 organization, so your donation is generally tax deductible. To ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit, we recommended that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, and/or the IRS. You may also consult Internal Revenue Service Publication No. 526, Charitable Contributions, and Publication No. 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. Value of the donation cannot be determined by the museum.
If I donate (or my ancestor donated) materials to the History Museum at the Castle, will they be returned to me at my request?
Items that have been formally accepted into the collection cannot be returned to the donor or their descendants. At the end of the donation process, donors are asked to sign a Deed of Gift which legally transfers ownership of the materials, as well as all associated rights and interests, to the History Museum at the Castle.
Can I loan my item(s) to the museum?
The History Museum only solicits loaned items for specific short-term exhibit projects, sometimes from members of the public, but often from other museums. We do not accept long-term loans.
If I’m not interested in donating my historic item, how can I best care for it?
There are some online resources that provide tips for how to care for different types of historic items. Here are a few good places to start to learn about preserving your heirlooms:
Donating to the Museum's Collection