Donate to Collections

Donate to Collections

Interested in donating collections, artifacts, books, or other items to the Filson?

The Filson Historical Society actively acquires personal, family, corporate, and institutional items that relate to Kentucky and the Ohio Valley. History is more than just famous people or significant events; the Filson collects materials that represent the varied experiences and communities of the Ohio Valley. The Filson is also interested in preserving recent history for future generations.

The Filson’s Collecting Policy and Priorities

The Filson collects through donations and purchases. Like every collecting institution, the Filson must collect and preserve in accordance with limitations on resources, specifically space. Responsible collecting necessarily entails tough curatorial decisions and cost/benefit analyses. Donations of collections materials are not free to the Filson; they come with preservation and ongoing storage costs as well as the costs of staff time to process incoming collections for research use.

The Filson often receives donation offers that replicate existing areas of collections strength. These materials may indeed have monetary and historical value and even be significant but would divert space, time, and conservation resources from areas of emerging collections interest. We often work with potential donors to help find appropriate alternative locations for collections and items that cannot be accepted at the Filson.

The Filson commits to ensuring that donations advance our priorities of increasing and diversifying representation in our collections – raising the profile of historical voices, formerly disempowered or overlooked in and around the city, state, and region. Review our full collections management policy here.

How do I donate items to the Filson?

If you have an item(s) you believe might be of interest to the Filson, please contact us! We request that you call or email before mailing, shipping, or bringing items on site. We are happy to answer questions and look forward to talking with you.  You can email gro.l1709015699aciro1709015699tsihn1709015699oslif1709015699@hcra1709015699eser1709015699 or call 502-635-5083 to be connected with the appropriate staff member. Your offer will be assigned to a curator, librarian, or collections management staff member who will contact you regarding the donation. If we are interested in accepting your donation, it will be reviewed by the Collections Management Committee, which meets once a month.

How are potential items reviewed?

The Collections Management Committee is composed of staff knowledgeable about both the scope of the Filson’s collections and the conservation issues associated with object, image, and document care. The assessment criteria followed combines best professional practices and the Filson’s current collecting priorities. The condition of the offered donation is also taken into consideration as is the availability of resources required to store, care, and make accessible its collection. The sensitive nature of the artworks, objects, or materials or ownership of copyrights can also factor into acquisitions decisions. If we are interested in accepting a donation, it will be reviewed by the Collections Management Committee, which meets once a month. After review by the Committee, your contact point will reach out to you again with further information.

Can I receive a tax deduction for my donation?

Donations accepted by the Filson might be tax deductible. Please consult your tax advisor. The Filson will work with you to provide appropriate documentation of your gift.

Can the Filson appraise my items?

The Filson does not provide appraisals of the monetary value of offered donations because the Internal Revenue Service regards museums and libraries as interested parties. Professional appraisers, however, will perform this service for a fee. To find a licensed appraiser in your area, contact one of the following organizations for a referral:

American Society of Appraisers: Website | Phone: 800-272-8258

Appraisers Association of America: Website | Phone: 212-889-5404

International Society of Appraisers: Website | Phone: 312-981-6778

Please feel free to view the Filson’s current Deed of Gift online here [click to access PDF]. A deed of gift is the legal paperwork that must be completed between a donor and the Filson to transfer materials to the Filson’s collections.