Policy for Donations of Objects

While the permanent collections of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology contain nearly 3.8 million artifacts, we do still accept written requests for donating items to the collections and we review these on a monthly basis.

The large number of objects already under our care dictates that we follow strict criteria when determining whether to accept new pieces. Factors include not only storage but long-term management costs and potential for research and exhibition use. Please read our Acquisition Guidelines below. Once you are satisfied that your potential donation meets our criteria please submit our Donation Questionnaire for review.

Acquisition Guidelines

Thank you for considering a donation to the Museum. Please review the following guidelines for Museum acquisitions:

  1. The item(s) must be consistent with and relevant to the stated purpose, scope, and activities of the Museum.
  2. Primary consideration will be given to the Museum's ability to provide proper care and storage for any artifact. No item(s) will be considered for acquisition if future care and preservation needs exceed the Museum's resources. Donations that include financial support for long-term storage and preservation are encouraged.
  3. Items must have clear title and be free of copyright restrictions.
  4. Donors must provide verifiable record of authenticity and provenance for all proposed donations. The Museum will make every effort to ascertain that items offered are not stolen, wrongfully converted, or acquired under false pretences. The Museum is bound by international antiquities laws. Foreign antiquities must have documentation indicating that they were exported from their country of origin prior to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The provenance of acquired items shall be a matter of public record.
  5. If the Museum discovers that it has acquired item (s) in violation of the above statement, the Museum shall seek to return the item(s) to the legal owner or shall seek to determine the proper means of disposition through recognized authorities.
  6. A 30-day examination period may be requested for any proposed acquisition.
  7. All acquisitions are to be outright and unconditional. The Museum cannot guarantee that objects donated will be placed on exhibition, or that they will be exhibited or stored intact as a single collection. In addition, please be aware that curatorial decisions made during cataloging of new collections may result in objects being deemed more appropriate for use in our education department or to be offered for sale to benefit the Museum.
  8. All donations to the Museum's collections are irrevocable upon the formal and physical transfer to the Museum.
  9. All legal instruments of conveyance and warranty of title, signed by the donor/seller/agent setting forth an adequate description of the items involved and the precise conditions of the transfer shall accompany all acquisitions.
  10. All acquisitions by gift or bequest to the Museum will remain in the possession of the Museum for as long as they retain their physical integrity and authenticity, and as long as they remain useful for the purposes of the Museum.
  11. Federal law prevents the Museum from providing identification services or appraisal values for donated items. Donors are responsible for appraisals of value.

Donations are fully tax deductible within IRS guidelines. Please consult your tax advisor.