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Donating to Collections/Archives

Common Donations

Art 

The Museum collects artwork including pieces that were created by children and adults in hiding, forced laborers, witnesses, partisans and refugees, as well as those in the camps and ghettos. We also collect wartime artwork created on the homefront as a response to the Holocaust. Although the majority of the artwork in the collection was created during the time period of the Holocaust, we also collect post-period artwork by survivors that directly reflects their personal experiences during the Holocaust.

Clothing, uniforms, and textiles

We are seeking authentic concentration camp uniforms and other garments and textiles (including patches, forced markings, and armbands) worn and used during the Holocaust. The Museum does not currently accept materials we deem to be inauthentic or textiles without provenance information, including Nazi uniform pieces brought back to the United States by Allied military personnel.

Documents, Correspondence, and Diaries

We are definitely interested in original documents and photographs that help us to understand the experiences of individuals and communities. We do not accept photocopies of original material still in private hands. 

Liberation photographs

Photographs documenting the concentration camps after liberation are the most common item offered to the Museum. Many of the photographs offered were taken by the US Army Signal Corps and brought home by American troops. For more information about these photographs, and to view some of the more common images, please see this article about World War II liberation photography. All offers of liberation photographs are reviewed to establish if we already have the image or a similar image in our holdings. We do accept liberation photographs with handwritten notations on the verso. Please be prepared to provide the curators with clear copies or scans of the images (including the back of the photo if it includes inscriptions), information about the photographer, geographic location and dates (if known).

Medals and Insignia

The Museum accepts medals and insignia on a case by case basis. Please be prepared to provide information about how the item was acquired and, if possible, the original owner of the insignia and where and when it was worn.

Nazi flags and regalia

Due to the large number of Nazi flags and banners regularly offered to the Museum, we are currently only able to accept flags and banners of a specific size range that accommodate our current exhibit needs. When contacting the Museum curators, please include a detailed description and the exact dimensions of your flag or banner.

Oral histories

The Museum is interested in oral histories with Holocaust survivors, witnesses, and bystanders. We accept both personal interviews and public presentations in both video and audio formats. If you are planning to conduct an oral history and are looking for Museum suggestions and guidelines, please see this online guidance. We are unable to accept individual copies of oral histories done by other institutions or organizations without the express written permission of these organizations. 

Personal Photographs

The Museum collects prewar, wartime, and postwar photographs depicting life before the Holocaust, wartime experiences, and the reconstruction of life after the war. We are most interested in photographs taken between the 1930s and the 1950s. Please be prepared to help us with identifying information related to persons, places, and events depicted in the photographs, as well as the larger context of the individual or family’s Holocaust experiences. In the case of photographs only, we may be interested in borrowing photographs for duplication in our Photo Archives if you are not willing to donate the original photographs at this time. Please see above for information on liberation photographs.

Propaganda

The Museum collects Nazi-produced propaganda, as well as anti-Nazi propaganda. Please be prepared to provide clear copies or scans of the material for curatorial review.

Three-dimensional objects

The Museum collects objects used, acquired, or created by forced laborers, witnesses, partisans, refugees, as well as people in hiding and in the camps and ghettos. Please understand there may be limitations based on size and physical condition. Be prepared to provide images and dimensions of the objects as well as information regarding the where, when, and how it was used and information about the wartime owner/creator.

Weapons

We do not accept Nazi or Allied military weaponry, including (but not limited to) guns, swords, daggers, and explosive devices. For all other questions regarding weapons, please contact a curator.

Questions from Donors

Is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum still accepting items?

Yes, the Museum is interested in materials that document the experiences of all victims of Nazi persecution regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or geographic location. We also collect materials from family members, refugees, liberators, witnesses, bystanders, and perpetrators in order to provide a well-rounded education of the Holocaust. To find out which items we are accepting, please consult the list of common donations before submitting your artifact for consideration. Even if shows up on the list of materials the Museum is currently accepting, DO NOT send any items to the Museum without speaking to one of the curators first in order to make proper arrangements.

Is my donation going to be publicly accessible or immediately on exhibit?

In telling the story of the Holocaust we depend on a large collection, of which only a small percentage can ever be displayed. Once an object, document, film footage or photo is accessioned into the permanent collection, it becomes available to staff, researchers who are working on a variety of projects, as well as any interested members of the public who request to view the collection. If you are interested in viewing a collection that is not currently on exhibit, please read about planning a research visit to make these arrangements.

Does the Museum purchase collections? 

No. We do not normally purchase historic materials. The Museum has a very limited budget and relies primarily on donations to the collection. 

What is the donation process? 

Once the donation is accepted by the donor, the Museum will send you a document called a Deed of Gift. This important legal document states that you are legally and permanently donating the materials to the Museum. Collections cannot be made available for exhibition, research, or publication until the document has been signed and returned to the Museum.

Is a gift to the Museum’s collection tax-deductible? 

Yes. You may wish to consult your accountant to ensure that you have complied with the Internal Revenue Service’s requirements regarding gifts of tangible property to charitable institutions. As a non-profit, federally funded institution, we are unable to provide you with an appraisal. However, should you choose to engage the services of an appraiser, we would make your collection available to that person for review.

Can the Museum tell me the value of my collection?

No. As a non-profit, federally funded institution, we are not permitted to appraise or valuate materials. In addition, we cannot recommend a specific appraiser, but you can use the following websites to search for assistance:

The American Society of Appraisers
http://www.appraisers.org (external link)

The Appraisers Association of America
http://www.appraisersassoc.org (external link)

National Association of Professional Appraisers
http://www.professionalappraisers.org (external link)

International Society of Appraisers
http://www.isa-appraisers.org (external link)

We are not able to provide you with any information in regards to the appraisal process and cost. Our best advice is to speak with various appraisers in regards to these matters.