Thank you for your interest in donating to HistoryMiami Museum’s archives and artifact collections.
Start by reading the Frequently Asked Questions section to learn important information about our donation process. After you have read this form, please fill out the donation form to provide us with a description of the item. If you are unable to complete the online form, call 305-375-1623 to request that a form be mailed to you. Please do not send artifacts or items to HistoryMiami Museum without prior consent.
Frequently Asked Questions
HistoryMiami Museum collects materials that relate to the Miami region, South Florida and the Caribbean. These materials may be artifacts and/or sources of information. The museum’s Objects Collection acquires materials of historical, archaeological or cultural interest. Click here to learn more. The Archives & Research Center collects visual materials; manuscripts and organizational records; and publications. Visual materials include photographs, maps and architectural records. Click here to learn more.
If you have an item or many items you think are appropriate for our collections, please complete our Online Donation Form or telephone us at 305-375-1492. Artifacts are best offered via the online form, as some items, such as furniture, are oversized, and other items require research in order to ascertain their suitability for the collection. The inclusion of a photograph and measurements of the item will be appreciated. The curatorial staff will evaluate the potential donation and contact the donor within a reasonable time to discuss its appropriateness for the collection.
Collections management and care is a priority at HistoryMiami Museum. Objects and documents selected for inclusion into the permanent collection are given an identifying number, which allows staff to track the location of the items. The items are cataloged and stored in acid-free materials in an environment of constant temperature and humidity with appropriate lighting levels. Donations to the Archives & Research Center are tracked through the accessions database, the online catalog and, when appropriate, detailed guides. These finding aids guide researchers to holdings that interest them. See the online catalog and Finding Aids and Guides for examples.
Three-dimensional objects are used to tell our community’s history through exhibits and public programs and for interpretation by scholars doing research. Documents and other paper-based materials are made available to researchers and the general public for use in publications, media presentations and general interest.
HistoryMiami Museum depends on your generous donations to build the Museum’s collection. As a private non-profit organization, HistoryMiami Museum’s acquisitions budgets are limited, even in the best of times. The materials it purchases, therefore, must be affordable and must meet specific needs. It is not likely that HM will buy your item(s).
HistoryMiami Museum strongly discourages unsolicited donations through the mail or in person without prior contact with Museum staff. This ensures that materials outside of our collecting scope or duplicates are not accepted. Please note that front desk staff cannot accept any donations to the collection. Items brought to the museum without prior arrangement will be turned away.
HistoryMiami Museum does not provide appraisals of the monetary value of materials offered for donation as the Internal Revenue Service views libraries, archives and museums as interested parties and, therefore, ineligible to appraise donations. To avoid the suggestion of conflict of interest, donors wishing to establish monetary value for their materials should seek the services of an independent, professional appraiser.
HistoryMiami Museum is a qualified charitable organization, thus the fair market value of your donated materials is generally tax deductible. To take advantage of your deduction, you must file form 1040 and, depending on the value of your donation, tax form 8283. To ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit, it is recommended that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, and/or the Internal Revenue Service. You may also consult Internal Revenue Service Publication No. 526, Charitable Contributions, and Publication No. 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.
HistoryMiami Museum relies on donations from individuals and organizations to fulfill its collecting mission, and will gladly accept materials, providing they meet the following requirements: Artifacts must have been made, purchased, or used in South Florida or the Caribbean. Archival materials and publications may have been made, purchased or used anywhere, but must pertain to the collections scope. HistoryMiami Museum must have the resources to provide for the donation’s long-term storage and care. Potential acquisitions are evaluated for their usefulness as artifacts and/or as sources of information, and how they will enhance HistoryMiami Museum’s collections. Items that have been stored in garages or in other unairconditioned spaces may have been exposed to mold or insect infestation which may contaminate the collections. In most cases, the appropriate curator will quickly accept or decline an offered donation. Less often, the offering will be evaluated by the Collections Committee before a decision is reached. These situations include: Objects or archival collections larger than ten cubic feet; Works of art; Donations with unusual circumstances, such as proposed restrictions. Any proposed archives and manuscripts restrictions must be approved in writing by the Museum Director. All items from donors are reviewed by the curatorial staff to ensure that items do not duplicate those already owned by HistoryMiami Museum. It is essential that the items are accompanied by clear title and, to the extent possible, provenance (history of ownership). Ownership of copyrights will also factor in the acquisition decision for documents. In most cases, the curators will suggest an appropriate institution for items that are not suitable for the collection.
The Archives & Research Center typically makes its collection available to researchers, students and the general public. Appointments are optional but strongly advised, especially when planning to do extensive research or to view the architectural drawings. Access to the object collections is limited and available to researchers by appointment only.
If I donate artifacts or documents to HistoryMiami Museum, may I borrow them, or will they be returned to me at my request?
The collections are held in public trust, and HistoryMiami Museum maintains legal ownership over the items acquired. All donors are required to acknowledge this transfer of unconditional ownership by way of the Receipt of Donation signed at the time of donation. It is not customary to loan museum objects or specimens to individuals, although HistoryMiami Museum routinely loans items to other museums, universities, and similar organizations, which have a legitimate reason for borrowing the object and can properly care for the item.
HistoryMiami Museum does not accept long-term loans. It will accept short-term loans for specific purposes, usually for display in an exhibition.
Once an item or collection has been added to the collection, it can only be removed following rigorous procedures established to protect the collection’s integrity. The process, called deaccessioning, requires the approval of the appropriate curator, the Collections Committee and the trustees of the association. An item may be deaccessioned, for example, because it is damaged beyond repair, has a condition that puts other parts of the collection at risk, are duplicative of other items in the collection, or is outside the scope of the collection. Deaccessioned material may be donated to another museum or cultural or educational organization, destroyed, or sold. Any proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned material are placed in a restricted collection acquisition fund. The Archives & Research Center often receives donations of large amounts of materials. During the processing of the collection, staff selects materials to add to the collection. The remainder will be returned to the donor, given to a more appropriate repository, destroyed, or sold, with the proceeds used to purchase items the archives needs.
The Archives & Research Center rarely accepts copies, for two reasons: Original materials may be used in exhibitions, while copies are of little or no use for display. Since HistoryMiami Museum also operates a museum, an item’s potential for exhibition is always a factor. Most scans and digital images created on equipment designed for home use are of too poor quality to be useful in an archive. The digital images must meet exacting standards and must be accompanied by complete metadata (information describing the image). The archives will occasionally borrow a few photographs to scan for its collections, providing the images are needed for a specific purpose, are otherwise unavailable, and are in the public domain. The archives will occasionally accept original digital photographs that have been shot using digital cameras, providing they meet the collections scope, are accompanied with metadata, and copyright issues have been resolved.
HistoryMiami Museum cannot guarantee that any donation will be placed on exhibition. As with most museums, only three to five percent of the Collection can be on display at any one time. Objects that are placed on exhibition must support the story line of that exhibition. Objects that are not on display are still useful and appreciated. Most collections that are not on display are accessible to researchers for study.