Donate Artifacts

Thank you for your interest in donating an artifact to the Idaho State Museum. As we prepare for our reopening, our collections staff is installing artifacts in the new museum. Unfortunately, we cannot evaluate or accept any new artifact donations during this time. Please contact Sarah Phillips at 208-334-2118 or after October 1, 2018 for information about artifact donation. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.

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 collection is used most visibly at the Idaho State Museum, Old Idaho Penitentiary, and J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit where items from the collection are exhibited 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. We collect a wide variety of artifacts from those used over a century ago by famous Idahoans to everyday objects of today. Each potential donation is reviewed by the staff members on the Collections Committee to evaluate 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 overrepresented 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). The donor receives
a copy of the Deed of Gift and donations may be tax deductible. IRS regulations and policies prohibit museum staff
members from appraising artifacts.  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 any artifact will be exhibited 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 and as part of the
collection will be preserved to allow future generations to learn about Idaho’s cultural heritage.