Helping Us Preserve the Past
Donations added to the museum collection through the generosity of individuals and corporations help us fulfill our mission as interpreters of Rockford’s history.
We have put together a list of frequently asked questions that people have in regard to making a donation.
How do I begin the process?
A phone call is the best way to ask about a possible donation. To discuss your object, please contact Curator of Collections & Exhibits Laura Furman at 815-397-9112 ext. 108. You can also email information about your object to firstname.lastname@example.org. This initial conversation can often determine if your object is appropriate for our collections.
What kind of objects is the Museum currently interested in?
Although there are many wonderful objects offered to us, we focus our attention on things unique to Rockford and Northern Illinois including (but not limited to) Rockford-made products, photographs, company archives, and items belonging to early settlers of the area.
We are particularly interested in objects and documents related to immigrants who made Rockford their home, as well as the history of the Rockford furniture industry.
We cannot accept unidentified items or those not associated with the Rockford area for our permanent collection. However, in some cases artifacts from 1890-1910 may be accepted for hands-on use in our Village buildings.
Does the Museum accept all donations?
Unfortunately, limitations of space and resources prohibit us from accepting many items.
Our first consideration is whether the object supports our mission to interpret the history of Rockford and Northern Illinois. The physical condition of the object and similarity to other items in the collection are also important issues. Careful selection of donations allows us to give the best possible care to every object in our collection.
What happens if my donation is not accepted?
If it is not accepted and you have left it with us, we will return it to you. If you do not want your item returned, the museum might use it for hands-on education, give it to another museum, or sell it to support museum programs.
What happens once my donation is accepted?
You will be asked to sign and return a legally binding “Donor Form”. The object then becomes a permanent part of our collection and will be numbered, cataloged and stored in a secured and environmentally controlled area.
Can I get my item back after I have donated it?
If you have donated an item to the museum and signed a “Donor Form,” then the object has legally become the property of the museum and cannot be returned. The museum is then responsible for the care and preservation of your item. Having invested these efforts we cannot return an item to you.
Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes, but you will need to have the value determined by an independent appraisal. The IRS does not permit the Museum to appraise items being donated to it. For a list of qualified appraisers, visit the Appraisers Association of America at www.appraisersassoc.org. Their membership directory is available be following the “Find an Appraiser” button on their home page.
Will my donation be exhibited?
At any given time only a very small percentage of the Museum’s collection is on exhibit.
Because exhibits require extensive resources of time and labor, we are limited in our ability to change them often. Some items are too fragile and may be damaged by exposure to light and the environment.
There is no guarantee that your donation will be exhibited but we would be happy to discuss how we might use your particular object with you. Many items receive regular use by staff and researchers in our Research Library.
However it is used, your donation will receive proper care and handling to ensure that it will be preserved for future generations to exhibit or study.
If my item is not on display, how can I view it?
You must make an appointment to view museum collections. To make an appointment contact Laura Furman, Curator of Collections at 815-397-9112, ext. 108 or at email@example.com.
The Museum is grateful to all of our donors for their generosity and willingness to share their objects with the community through us.