Museum Collections

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Mendocino County Museum Mission Statement

Mendocino County Museum is dedicated to preserving and interpreting its museum collections for the purpose of educating and inspiring awareness of the peoples, communities, and history of Mendocino County for the enjoyment and benefit of County residents and visitors.

Mendocino County Museum Collections Policy

On April 9, 2019, Mendocino County Museum Collection Policy was adopted by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. Please see the Policy in its entirety: Mendocino County Museum Collections Policy

Mendocino County Museum Collection Overview

Mendocino County Museum has Permanent or Accessioned Collections and Use or Non-Accessioned Collections:

Permanent or Accessioned Collections: These collections represent the most rare and historically significant artifacts and information about Mendocino County. The objects within this collection are considered valuable and irreplaceable and are subject to strict accountability and the highest level of care.

Historical Objects Collection

Non-living artifacts, artwork, and objects that relate directly to the Mission Statement of the Mendocino County Museum. The accessioned collection will not include items that are unable to be stored and cared for within the Mendocino County Museum interior museum storage facility.

Archival Collection

Documents and photographs related to the history and people of Mendocino County. The Archives consist of mostly paper-based manuscripts, printed materials, maps, records, photographs, ledgers, etc.

Use or Non-Accessioned Collections: These collections are primarily used for education and may be handled by the public. Items in these collections are not subject to the restrictions and standard of care afforded the Permanent or Accessioned Collections.

Education Collection

Items in this collection are not part of the Permanent or Accessioned Collections although records of their receipt and disposition will be maintained with an inventory. These items will be used solely for education and public programs. Items in this collection are not subject to the restrictions and standard of care afforded to the accessioned collection. Objects within this collection are composed of donated items directed to this collection with the donor’s approval or through deaccession and transfer from the Historical Objects or Archival Collections outlined formally in this policy. Objects or materials in the Education Collection are considered expendable within the context of educational programs of the Museum. These objects or materials may be utilized with minimal supervision in program related activities or initiatives. When the object or material no longer has program value or has deteriorated beyond use, these items may be disposed of by noting its removal on the inventory record, no other formal action is required.

Prop Collection

This collection includes materials or reproduction artifacts or items that may be purchased or donated for the specific purpose of being used as props in an exhibition or educational program setting. Any purchased items will follow Mendocino County Policy No. 1 Purchasing, Leasing, and Contracting Policy. Props are not accessioned or inventoried and their continued use is determined by an active or future need in a program or exhibit setting. If not in active use, these materials are disposed of following Mendocino County Policy No. 1 regulations or stored outside of the collection storage areas. 

Public Access to the Collection

Research requests from the public to view non-exhibited artifacts, archival materials, or reference materials require completing a Research Request Form and must be approved by the Mendocino County Museum Curator prior to setting an appointment. All research requests will take place during normal operating hours of the Mendocino County Museum.

Mendocino County Museum will provide reasonable access to its collection for legitimate research and study by responsible investigators, subject to procedures necessary to safeguard the objects and to restrictions imposed by limitations of space and facilities, exhibition requirements, and availability of curatorial staff. The Museum Curator will advise the researcher to the proper use and handling of collections and will exercise caution when determining the level of access to the collections, especially when the safety of an object appears to be jeopardized. Appropriate training will be provided for all individuals given permission to handle collections. Mendocino County Museum reserves the right to hold users liable for any damage they cause to collections.

Please see our Research Request Form for more information.

Potential Artifact Donations

Please see our Potential Artifact Donation Frequently Asked Questions Page for more information.