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Donation FAQs

What kind of items do the Campbell Museums collect?

Generally, the museum collects objects, ephemera, audio recordings, photographs, moving images, and documents, relating to the history of the Campbell area with regard for its changing historic sphere of influence in the Santa Clara Valley.  These collections consist of materials primarily related to the period of early local pioneer settlement, circa 1840 to present. The museum also collects Native American artifacts, both historic and prehistoric of local origin, which may be deemed significant for research or exhibit purposes. In addition, some items that may not fit our permanent collection may make excellent additions to our education collection.


What items does the Campbell Museums not collect?

The museum only accepts items that directly relate to the history of Campbell. Accepting items simply because they are “old” is not enough, no matter how fascinating they might be.


Why can't the Campbell Museums accept everything? Why weren't my items accepted?

Documenting, cataloging, preserving and storing artifacts are very costly. Every museum must be discriminating about what is accepted because each museum has a defined mission and limited resources. Items are declined if they do not meet our collecting criteria, if the museum already owns duplicates or owns similar representations, or if condition is poor.


Why and how is ownership of my donation formally transferred to the Campbell Museums?

In order for the museum to incorporate new acquisitions into its catalog, it must first have legal possession of that object. To complete the donation process, the Collections Specialist will provide two copies of a "Deed of Gift" -  a form that legally and irrevocably transfers ownership to the museum. One copy is retained by the museum, while the other is retained by the donor for his/her records. The Deed of Gift is the donor’s official gift receipt and may be used as proof of donation for tax purposes.


What recognition do donors receive?

When artifacts are exhibited, the names of donors are made public via the display label. A donor may specify how she/he wishes their name to be listed (within the limits of length and good taste). Donors may not place special conditions on the way the museum displays or labels their donations.


What about tax deductions?

The Campbell Museums are owned and operated by the City of Campbell as a public trust institution. Your gift may qualify as a charitable deduction for federal income purposes. The Deed of Gift, which donors are required to sign to transfer ownership of the donation to the museum, also serves as a tax receipt. The museum advises you to seek the counsel of a tax professional.


Can you tell me how much something I own is worth?

No. The museum is forbidden by federal law from providing any information on the value (real or perceived) of any object(s) donated or potentially donated to it. In the interest of fairness and because of the potential for abuse of the museum's good offices, its staff, volunteers and all affiliates are strictly prohibited from providing valuations of any object at any time for any purpose. To locate an appraiser, consider contacting your regional branch of the Appraisers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers directly. Also, there are books available within specific subject domains that describe market prices.


Will you keep my donation forever?

Collections staff periodically assess the collection and may elect to deaccession (remove) selected artifacts. Criteria for deaccessioning include materials that no longer serve the museum's mission, duplicative holdings, are hazardous, cannot be adequately stored or preserved, or the artifact’s components have physically deteriorated with age and time. Deaccessioning requires approval by the Senior Museum Specialist and Collections Specialist, and is never taken lightly.  Materials removed from the collection cannot be returned to donors, but may be transferred to other museums or sold to fund collections care.


Where and when will you display my donation?

The Campbell Museums actively collect objects today for display far into the future. With rare exceptions, the museum will not immediately display a donation and makes no guarantee that your donated artifact(s) will be displayed at any time. When the museum develops an exhibition, staff reviews the artifacts available and chooses those items that best suit the exhibition’s theme and messages. However, all donations are cataloged and stored, and are accessible to the public through a research appointment.

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