Artifact Donations

The Washington County Historical Society is responsible for the care of over 40,000 artifacts. These artifacts reflect the people, industry and history of the County and are collected and cared for with the purpose of connecting Washington County’s past to the present, with a focus on the future. 

The department’s mission is to acquire, preserve, document, study, interpret and make accessible the collections that further the Museum’s mission and meet the needs of Museum audiences. 

The object collections of the Washington County Historical Society range from prehistoric ceramics to mid-century clothing and modern day toys.

The museum accepts donations of artifacts that help in meeting our mission of preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Washington County, Wisconsin. We rely on the generosity of donors to enhance and expand the collections.

Artifact Collection Guidelines

We collect a wide variety of artifacts from prehistoric to present day.  Each potential donation is reviewed by the Curator of Collections and Exhibits to evaluate its appropriateness for the permanent collection.

Artifacts accepted into the collection generally meet the following basic criteria:

  1. The artifact has a Washington County connection and a known history or is representative of artifacts that would have been used in the County.
  2. The artifact is in good and stable physical condition.
  3. The artifact is unique and not already overrepresented in the collection.
  4. The artifact can be acquired without restrictions such as requirements for a long-term loan or permanent exhibition of the artifact.

If it is determined that an artifact is appropriate for the collection, the donor completes a Deed of Gift transferring legal ownership of the artifact to the Washington County Historical Society and the donor receives a copy of the Deed of Gift.  Donations may be tax deductible; however, IRS regulations and policies prohibit museum staff from appraising artifacts.  Donors who wish to receive a tax deduction for their donation should consult a tax professional and a qualified appraiser prior to completing the Deed of Gift.

We cannot guarantee that any artifact will be exhibited and only a small fraction of the collection is on exhibit at any one time. Regardless of whether or not an artifact is placed on exhibit, it is a valued piece of history and as part of the collection will be preserved to allow future generations to learn about our cultural heritage.

Artifact Donations are by appointment only. Artifacts are acquired though donations, bequest, and short term loans. Please note, no permanent loans are accepted and the Museum will not assume any loans or donations with specific conditions or restrictions.