a donated African object with tag next to a crate

Object Donation

The mission of the Spurlock Museum is "encompassing the diversity of cultures through time and across the globe." To achieve this mission, the Museum seeks to create a collection that makes every effort to represent as broad a range of geographical regions, cultures, and points in history as possible. The Museum relies on the generosity of donors to achieve this goal.


In order to give potential donors some insight into what we collect, we are providing a list of examples of the types of objects the Museum seeks in our efforts to build collections that will support in-depth study and interpretation of individual cultures, as well as comparative study across cultures, geographic regions, and time:

  • objects of daily, festive, ceremonial, or religious life that are culturally and/or historically defining
  • textiles, clothing, jewelry, adornment, and personal accessories, particularly those that demonstrate practices or traditions no longer actively used
  • objects related to global conflicts and military-related history, such as armor, uniforms, weapons, and propaganda materials. Note that we do not collect United States military uniforms
  • tools and equipment related to agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, trapping, or other methods to capture, harvest, or collect resources
  • tools, equipment, and service ware related to cooking or food preparation
  • tools and equipment used to create objects in processes such as pottery making, metalworking, fiber working, woodworking, painting, etc.

Process and Criteria

Have something you’d like to donate? Consider the guidelines below:

  • It was originally made and used outside the United States.
  • It was purchased at a local market or received from the original user or maker.
  • It is a tool, clothing, or ornament used by an indigenous group.
  • If it is a military object, such as a uniform or medal, it is from a country other than the United States.

If two or more of these apply to your potential donation, contact us to further discuss your piece.

Contact Us

The history of an object is as important as the object itself. Before contacting the museum, please take time to gather anything you have that can tell about the "wheres and whens" of your object. That could be photographs, receipts, notes written by you or the original collector, appraisal forms, etc. If you are not sure what to bring, bring in everything you have or contact us and ask.

For answers to your other questions or to start the donation process, contact Amy Heggemeyer, Assistant Registrar. Please note that we cannot give appraisals, provide any information related to value, or authenticate artifacts.