Collection Donation FAQ

How do I donate objects, images, or documents to Brenham Heritage Museum (BHM)?

Due to the volume of offers BHM receives plus limited storage space, we cannot accept every object, image, or document offered for donation. We request that you first submit a completed donation form for review. If you have material that you believe would enhance BHM’s collection, please use the online Collection Donation Form to send us a description of your proposed donation. If you are unable to complete the online form, please call BHM and request that either a copy of the donation form be mailed to you or a time be set for you to stop by the BHM office. Please try to include a photograph and measurements of the item(s) with your form.

Once the form is received, your proposed donation will be reviewed by a collection staff member who will contact you within three weeks. If we are interested in accepting your donation, BHM staff will work with you to receive the item(s). A staff member will present your donation along with a recommendation for acquisition to the Collections Committee. (please note, regular reviews may be postponed when staff time is otherwise committed to the development of special exhibitions or special programs).

Following acceptance by the Collections Committee and Board of Directors, you will be issued a Deed of Gift to document the transfer of ownership of the donated item(s) to BHM. If you have questions, concerns, or wish to check on the status of your proposed donation, please contact us via email or phone.

Can I mail or drop off a donation?

BHM does not accept donations through the mail or in person unless prior arrangements have been made with the appropriate collection staff member. All unsolicited donations sent via the mail will be returned to the sender.

How are potential donations reviewed?

Donation offers are reviewed first by the museum staff who make recommendations to the Collections Committee. The Committee uses the criteria specified in the Collecting Scope and further described in the BHM Collecting Plan to guide its decisions.

How long does it take for BHM to review proposed donations?

Typically, the process takes about three months.

Will BHM appraise my donation for its monetary value?

BHM does not provide appraisals of the monetary value of proposed donations, or for any other reason, because the Internal Revenue Service regards museums and libraries as interested parties. Monetary appraisals prepared for donors by such institutions are subject to question or disqualification.

Professional appraisers, however, will perform this service. To find a licensed appraiser in your area, contact one of the following organizations for a referral: the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America.

Can I take a tax deduction for my donation?

BHM is a qualified 501c3 charitable organization; thus your donation of historical materials to BHM’s collection is generally tax deductible to the extent allowed under your specific tax circumstances. We are not tax professionals, however, so ultimately this question is not ours to answer.

Will BHM exhibit the materials in my donation?

BHM cannot guarantee that any historical materials donated to the collection will be exhibited unless expressly collected for that purpose. Only a portion of the collection is on view at any given time.

Objects, images, and documents from the collection are occasionally loaned to other institutions for temporary exhibitions, and many historical archival materials in the collection are made available for research purposes.

If I donate materials to BHM, will they be returned to me at my request?

BHM cannot return accessioned collection items to the donor. Once the Collections Committee accepts your donation for the collection, you will be asked to sign a Deed of Gift, which legally transfers ownership of the donated materials to BHM.

Does BHM want historic photographs?

Yes! We are always looking to add more valuable images of Brenham and Washington County to our collections provided they meet our needs. Often, archivists define historic as being 50 years or older. While we are not locked in to that number, it provides a helpful guideline on age.

Desirable subject matter for BHM starts with images that show a Washington County location, whether in the foreground or background. Images of individuals who are well-known in the area are desired, as are images of local organizations. Other subject matter may also be of interest.

How are photographs handled?

We realize that family photographs are precious possessions. We offer two ways to accept your photographs. If you wish to retain the originals, we will work with you to make arrangements for us to scan them at our desired specifications so that you may retain them. If the time has come for you to dispose of the originals, we will determine whether to accept them using the same criteria as we apply to other artifacts. We don’t want to see our history end up in the landfill.

Does size matter?

As with most of us, storage space at BHM is finite. For that reason, our Collections Committee may need to set a higher standard for accepting large items than smaller ones.

Can donated materials be removed from BHM’s collection?

BHM may, with approval from the Collections Committee and Board of Directors, remove historical materials from the collection through a process called deaccessioning. Objects, images, or documents that conform to our deaccessioning criteria as described in BHM’s Collections Management Policy (e.g., historical materials that are determined to be outside the scope of BHM’s collections; inauthentic, misidentified, or misattributed; pose a risk to other objects in the collection; or have deteriorated beyond reasonable repair) may be considered for deaccessioning. Deaccessioned historical material may be transferred to another museum or cultural or educational organization, destroyed, sold, or disposed in another manner that BHM deems fit. Under certain circumstances, deaccessioned items may be offered back to the original donor. Any proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned historical material are placed in a restricted Collection Acquisition Fund.

Does BHM accept long-term loans?

BHM does not accept long-term loans unless the item(s) meet a very specific need for the permanent exhibits. While we do accept loan items on a short-term basis in conjunction with exhibitions and other programs, BHM prefers to commit its resources to the storage and preservation of historical materials in the collection.

How do researchers access historical materials in BHM’s collection?

BHM’s holdings are available to researchers on a limited, by appointment basis. We also provide photograph duplications for publication and/or research upon request for a fee. Please call for an appointment or for more information.