Idaho State Museum Collections
The collections of the Idaho State Museum are as varied and unique as Idaho’s landscape. Objects in the collection range from frontier firearms to Chinese coins to children’s toys of today. The Museum holds the state’s largest collection of material culture related to Idaho’s heritage.
The museum accepts donations of historic artifacts that help in meeting our mission of preserving and promoting Idaho’s cultural heritage. The Idaho State Museum relies on the generosity of donors to enhance and expand the collections. The Idaho State Historical Society uses the collection most visibly at the Idaho State Museum, Old Idaho Penitentiary, and J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit where we exhibit items from the collection to interpret Idaho’s rich history.
What Types of Artifacts Does the Museum Accept?
The museum accepts artifacts from prehistoric times to the present day for our collection. Equally important to our collecting mission are artifacts used over a century ago by famous Idahoans, and everyday objects of today. After artifacts are proposed, staff members on the Collections Committee evaluate each potential donation to determine its appropriateness for the permanent collection.
Artifacts accepted into the collection generally meet the following basic criteria:
1. The artifact has an Idaho connection and a known history (who made the item, who used the item, where was it acquired, when was it used, etc.).
2. The artifact is in good and stable physical condition.
3. The artifact is unique and not already over-represented in the collection.
4. The artifact can be acquired without restrictions such as requirements for a long-term loan or
permanent exhibition of the artifact.
What Happens After my Artifact is Accepted into the Collection?
If the Collections Committee determines that an artifact is appropriate for the collection, the donor completes a Deed of Gift transferring legal ownership of the artifact to the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS). While donations may be tax deductible, IRS regulations and policies prohibit museum staff members from appraising artifacts. Therefore, donors who wish to receive a tax deduction for their donation should consult a tax professional and a qualified appraiser prior to completing the Deed of Gift.
When Will My Artifact be on Exhibit?
We cannot guarantee that the ISHS will display an artifact, and only a small fraction of the collection is on exhibit at any one time. Regardless of whether or not an artifact is placed on exhibit, it is a valued piece of Idaho history. As part of the collection, artifacts will be preserved to allow future generations to learn about Idaho’s cultural heritage.
If you would like to donate artifacts which will help the Idaho State Museum fulfill our mission of preserving and promoting Idaho’s cultural heritage, please fill out the Artifact Donation Questionnaire below. Following completion, send your questionnaire, along with photos documenting the current state of the objects, to our collections staff digitally at ISMCollections@ishs.idaho.gov or to Idaho State Museum, Attention: Collections Staff, 610 Julia Davis Dr., Boise, Idaho, 83702. Should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call (208) 334-2118 to speak with our collections staff.