FAQ: About Donating to the Museum's Collection

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Mendocino County Museum accepts selected donations for its artifact and archival collections. Before we accept an item into the collection, it is reviewed by Mendocino County Museum's Curator and the Cultural Services Director. Not everything is accepted. Potential Donation Forms are reviewed on a every other month basis. Based on the Museum Curator's workload a limited number of donation applications will be reviewed. 

Please read the Frequently Asked questions below before filling out a Potential Donation Form.

What types of items does the Mendocino County Museum collect?

We collect items that were made or used in Mendocino County, and considered historically significant. Ideally we would want to know where/when/by who the item(s) were used. Some examples include. 

  • Historical Objects
  • Photographs and videos
  • Business/organizational/governmental records
  • Manuscripts
  • Maps
  • Oral Histories
  • Books/Pamphlets

Can I send or bring my item(s) to the Museum immediately?

No. Please submit the Potential Donation Form first. The item needs to be reviewed by Museum staff prior to accepting a donation. The Museum curator will review and schedule an appointment if it is determined more information is needed about your item. Museum staff will not be able to accept or handle unscheduled donations. The Mendocino County Museum reserves the right to dispose of any unsolicited materials delivered to the Museum.

How does the Museum decide to accept a donation?

The Museum Curator and Cultural Services Director reviews every potential donation form application to assess the item's historical significance to Mendocino County, its physical condition, its history of ownership and use, the Museum's ability to store and care for the item, and if we already have an item similar in the Museum's collection. The length of the process may take a few months, and we thank you for your patience.

What happens to my item(s) after the donation?

The Mendocino County Museum only accepts artifacts/items that have a clear title and are donated without restrictions from the donor. By signing a Deed of Gift, you are permanently transferring ownership of your item(s) to the Mendocino County Museum, and guaranteeing that the item was legally yours to give. Once the donation is complete, the item is assigned an identification number, cataloged, and assigned a storage place. 

Will my item(s) be exhibited?

We do not guarantee your donated item will be displayed or exhibited in the Museum. Only a small percentage of the Museum's collection is on display at one time. Items not on display are in the Museum's storage areas. Your item will also be available to researchers and potential future exhibitions. 

Can the Mendocino County Museum appraise the monetary value of my item?

No. The IRS considers museums to be an interested party, so we are unable to appraise items. If you would like your item valued, please consult a professional appraiser. 

If I donate materials (or if my ancestor/family donated) to the Mendocino County Museum will they be returned to me at my request?

No. Items that have been formally accepted into the Mendocino County Museum cannot be returned to the donor or their descendants. At the end of the donation process, donors are asked to sign a Deed of Gift, which legally transfers ownership of the item(s) as well as all associated rights and interests, to the Mendocino County Museum. 

Can I loan my item(s) to the Mendocino County Museum?

Mendocino County Museum only solicits loaned items for specific temporary short term exhibit projects, sometimes from members of the public, but often from other museums. We do not accept long-term loans.

When will my Potential Donation be reviewed by the Museum staff?

Mendocino County Museum staff reviews Potential Donation Forms on a every other month schedule. Based on the Museum Curator's workload,  a limited number of donation applications will be reviewed. The Potential Donation Review Dates are listed below. All potential donation forms must be completed and turned in one week prior to be considered for that review date. If there is a high volume of Potential Donations, your application or form may be pushed to a review date in the future.

Review Dates  Potential Donation Form Submission Deadline to be Considered for Review
 1/13/20 1/6/20
3/9/20 3/2/20
5/11/20 5/4/20
 7/13/20 7/6/20
9/14/20 9/4/20
11/9/20 11/2/20


Can I submit my Potential Donation Form Online?

 Yes. Please do so by following the link: Online Potential Donation Form.

Can I mail in or drop off my Potential Donation Form?

Yes. You may download the Potential Donation Form PDF and submit this form in person or you can mail the form to us at Mendocino County Museum, Attn: Museum Curator, 400 E. Commercial Street, Willits, CA 95490.

If I'm not interested in donating my item, how can I best care for it?

There are many online resources that might be able to provide you tips on caring for historic items. Please see the following links:

American Institute for Conservation

Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute