Adding to the VAHS archives and artifact collection
What documents, photographs, and artifacts does VAHS accept?
We accept photographs, published materials (books, pamphlets, magazines, etc.), primary sources (letters, journals, memoirs, etc.), scrapbooks, photo albums, and organizational records (from clubs, churches, etc.). Objects in our collection vary greatly, but artifacts include clothes, tools, dishes, furniture, artwork, and business memorabilia.
What items does VAHS not accept?
We generally do not accept objects for one or more of the following reasons:
We already have that object in our collection
The item is in poor condition and would be hard to preserve
The item is too large. We must be very selective with the three-dimensional objects we accept because our storage space is limited.
The item is not from the Virginia area. Most of our collection items are from Virginia, Mountain Iron, Britt, Eveleth, and Gilbert. "Virginia area" is not currently strictly defined, but items from outside the Quad Cities area are outside of our collection and exhibits scope, and they would be better utilized and enjoyed at other organizations.
The item is from the Virginia area but does not have a significant story or is a generic object. If something could be found at an antique store, we might not be able to use it for an exhibit or research. Kitchen items, clothing, toys, or small electronics, for example, are already present in our collection and need not be duplicated. Those items are more valuable to us if the donor knows exactly where the item came from and how it was used. Newspapers also fit into this category. Newsprint deteriorates easily and presents storage challenges. Most local newspapers are already in bound volumes at city halls, public libraries, and newspaper offices (if the papers are still in print), and they are usually available on microfilm at the Iron Range Research Center and the Minnesota History Center.
If you are unsure if we would accept an artifact, please contact us, and we can help you figure out the best course of action. Our priorities are making sure we can care for collection items to the best of our ability and that our collection items can be utilized as much as possible.
How do I donate an object?
When possible, please contact us first to describe the item(s) you wish to donate. It's possible they wouldn't fit in our collections and could be better enjoyed and cared for or at another museum. If we think an item would be a good addition to our collection, the donor must completely fill out the deed of gift form (below) and deliver it in person or mail it to us. If the form is not filled out, the item does not legally belong to VAHS. Once the deed of gift is signed, the item is our property and is either accessioned (officially considered a museum collection piece) or classified as reference material or a prop.