Donate Artifacts

Donations of historical artifacts from generous individuals and organizations help the DuPage County Historical Museum illustrate the rich history of DuPage County and provide historical knowledge for the community. Below are some frequently asked questions.

How do I donate an artifact?

If you have historical items and materials that you would like to donate, contact the Museum Curator at [email protected] or 630-510-4958. The Museum’s Collections Committee, which meets quarterly, must approve all new donations, so it may take up to three months for the Museum to decide whether to accept your artifacts.

You may be asked to drop off your artifacts at the Museum for the Collections Committee to view in person and sign a Receipt of Materials form. If you live outside of the Chicagoland area, cannot travel to the Museum, or want to donate large pieces, you may send the Curator pictures of your artifacts via email or mail. Please do not drop off or mail in your artifacts without first contacting the Curator or another Museum staff member.

What does the DuPage County Historical Museum collect?

For the Permanent Collection, the Museum collects objects, textiles, archival materials, rare books, artwork, photographs, and other artifacts that depict the history of DuPage County from prehistory to the present-day. The Museum also collects digital copies of significant two-dimensional and audiovisual materials and records oral histories with interested patrons through the Voices of DuPage program. All artifacts in the Permanent Collection are held in the public trust and preserved indefinitely according to current museum standards.

The Museum usually does not collect artifacts that have no provenance, are not connected to DuPage County, or are not authentic historical artifacts. Museum staff may consider such artifacts for use in the Education Collection, which contains artifacts that patrons can handle and touch at programs, events, and interactive exhibit stations.

The Museum collects scholarly books, historical and genealogical research documents, photocopies of original documents, documentaries, and other research materials for its research library and vertical files, both of which are available to visitors during regular business hours.

What if my donation is accepted?

If the Collections Committee accepts your donation, the Curator will mail you a Deed of Gift that you will need to sign and return. In signing the Deed of Gift, you grant the Museum all right, title, and interest in and to the artifacts.

What if my donation is not accepted?

If the Collections Committee does not accept your donation, the Curator will contact you and ask that you pick up the artifacts within 30 days. If you do not want the items back, the Museum may donate them to another museum or nonprofit organization or dispose of them.

Will the DuPage County Historical Museum appraise my donation?

Museum staff cannot appraise donated artifacts due to a potential conflict of interest, so you would need to consult a professional appraiser. The American Society of Appraisers is a great resource to find an approved appraiser near you.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Your donation may be tax deductible, but please consult with your accountant, attorney and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Will the DuPage County Historical Museum exhibit my donated artifacts?

Museum staff members decide which artifacts to display in exhibits based on their relevance to current exhibit topics, physical condition, and suitability for display. The Museum’s primary concern is the long-term preservation of Permanent Collection artifacts, so it rotates artifacts between storage and display to control their exposure to light and environmental conditions.

The Museum also shares its artifacts with the public in other ways. Researchers can make an appointment with the Curator to view artifacts under certain conditions. The Museum also shares images of its artifacts on its website, social media accounts, and publications. Furthermore, the Museum also loans artifacts to other museums and cultural institutions that meet certain environmental, insurance, and display requirements.

Can I receive my artifacts back?

Unfortunately, the Museum cannot return your artifacts once you complete the donation process. Once you sign the Deed of Gift, you permanently transfer legal ownership of your artifacts to the Museum. Furthermore, the Museum invests considerable time and resources in the preservation of its artifacts, so they can be enjoyed and utilized by the public in perpetuity.

Will you take my artifact as a long-term or permanent loan?

The Museum does not accept long-term or permanent loans because of the ethical and legal problems they can cause. The Museum’s top priority is the preservation and display of the artifacts in its Permanent Collection.

Coffee mill donated in 1967

1960s dress donated in 2016

Painting of the Fredenhagen-Lambe Gristmill in Warrenville donated in 1974