Research, Archives and Collections

Donation and Object Inquiry - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I donate an object to the Museum?
The Oshkosh Public Museum is grateful when an individual or organization considers donating artifacts, photographs, and/or archival documents to our institution. Our staff carefully researches a potential acquisition to ensure that it will advance the Museum's mission and meet its collecting criteria outlined in its Collections Management Policy.

Items are not accepted or otherwise acquired for the Museum's collections unless the following conditions are met:
• The objects are relevant to and consistent with the mission, purposes, and activities of the Museum.
• The present owner has clear authority, right or title to transfer ownership.
• The Museum can provide accessibility along with storage, protection, and care for the objects.

Title to all items acquired by the Museum is obtained free and clear, without restrictions as to use, exhibition, or future disposition. If you would like to make an inquiry about donating an object, please contact:

For Artifacts:
Curator of Collections, Anna Cannizzo
acannizzo@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5765

For Photographs, Media, and Paper Materials:
Archivist, Scott Cross
scross@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5773

The Museum abides by all local, state and federal laws in the collecting and holding of items. We cannot accept specimens or artifacts unless they have been legally and ethically collected.

What types of things does the Museum collect?
The Museum collects objects that serve to advance its mission and relate to Oshkosh and the Lake Winnebago Region.

Our mission is to identify, collect, document, preserve, and interpret material culture, ideas, and values representing Oshkosh and the Lake Winnebago Region. The Museum will strive to promote and nurture an understanding and an appreciation of this valuable legacy through easily accessible quality exhibitions, programs, publications and other educational experiences.

The Museum collects the following:

NATIVE AMERICAN (ANTHROPOLOGY)
The Museum collects various types of objects relating to the native peoples and cultures of the Lake Winnebago Region. This includes historic or prehistoric items such as tools, clothing, basketry, carvings, weaponry, and much more. If you are unsure whether your item relates to a Wisconsin tribe or group, we may be able to help identify it.

The Museum does not collect human remains or any items taken from a grave. The Museum complies with all laws related to this and returns human remains and grave goods to the appropriate tribes.

If you have something related to Wisconsin’s native peoples that you think is important, rare, unique, or tells a story, we encourage you to contact a Curator.

ARCHIVES
The Museum archives collects items including but not limited to original photographs, correspondences, diaries, maps, and various media such as film, and musical recordings that represent the region and its people. These items can illustrate the life, events, landscape, industry, recreation, and more.

If you have old letters, photographs, or other items that you think may be important, rare or help tell a story, we encourage you to contact the Archivist.

ART
The Museum selectively collects paintings, works of art on paper, and sculpture by Wisconsin artists. The Museum is also interested in artwork from the period of the Sawyer home (1908-1922) and paintings from American Impressionist period (1875-1920).

If you have art that you think is important, rare, unique, or tells a story, we encourage you to contact a Curator.

DECORATIVE AND FOLK ART
There are many items in this category that the Museum collects including but not limited to hand carvings, glass and ceramic pieces, stained glass, decoys, lighting, silver items, jewelry and accessories, and other forms of functional art. We ideally seek items that relate to the people of Oshkosh and the Lake Winnebago region.

If you have an art object that you think is important, rare, beautiful, unique, or tells a story, we encourage you to contact a Curator.

HISTORY
This is the Museum’s largest category! It includes objects like clothing, tools, quilts, housewares, weaponry, military materials, toys, furnishings, sports objects, and much more. We look for artifacts that relate to the people events, and experiences of Oshkosh and the Lake Winnebago region, from the 1800s to the present. The artifact may reflect military history, occupation and industry, recreation, politics, or other categories.

If you have something related to the area that you think is important, rare, unique, and/or tells a story, we encourage you to contact a Curator.

NATURAL HISTORY (or NATURE)
This category relates to the nature and environment of the Lake Winnebago Region. It includes but is not limited to items such as birds, mammals, reptiles, and rocks. The Museum does not actively collect in this area, but in some cases we can advise you on another institution that may be interested. Please be aware that there are state and federal laws that govern the salvage of birds and mammals.

If you have questions or seek advice on a specimen, please contact a Curator.

May I drop off or mail a donation?
We strongly discourage unsolicited donations through the mail or in person without prior communication with the Museum's curatorial or archival staff.

Can Museum staff appraise or authenticate objects?
Collections staff may be willing to identify objects if time and expertise allow. However, museums are legally and ethically prohibited from providing monetary estimates of the values of items. A donor seeking an appraisal must seek the services of an accredited appraiser.

To find an appraiser in your area, please contact the following organizations:
American Society of Appraisers
International Society of Appraisers
Appraisers Association of America

Can I take a tax deduction for my donation?
Probably, however donors should consult with their tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service regarding their particular situation. Donations to the Museum are generally tax deductible based on their fair market value, as determined by an outside professional. The Museum is not permitted to provide any appraisal for tax deduction.

Will items I donate eventually be exhibited or accessible for study?
Yes, however it is unlikely it would be immediate. The Museum's collection contains over 300,000 objects and only a very small percentage can be exhibited at any one time. The Museum rotates object displays and disseminates information about the collection online via virtual exhibits and its media outlets. The Museum allows access to collections for research purposes. The Museum further makes items accessible for display at other cultural institutions through our loan program. If you would like to have access to collections, please contact:

For Artifacts:
Curator of Collections, Anna Cannizzo
acannizzo@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5765

For Exhibitions:
Curator of Exhibitions, Debra Daubert
ddaubert@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5767

For Photographs and Paper Materials:
Archivist, Scott Cross
scross@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5773

May I request that materials I donate be returned to me?
Signing a Deed of Gift legally and permanently transfers ownership and rights to materials to the Museum, which is a department of the City of Oshkosh. The Museum may consider your request, but it is not required to return collection items to a donor or a donor's family member.

Does the Museum accept objects on short-term loan?
Yes, the Museum occasionally accepts short-term loans for use in an exhibition. The Museum does not take an item on long term loan because limited resources prevent the Museum from storing and preserving objects that it does not own. For questions regarding loans for exhibitions please contact:

Curator of Exhibitions, Debra Daubert
ddaubert@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5767

Does the Museum offer advice on how to care for or store important objects that I own?
Yes! We love preserving history whether it is located in our collection or yours! Staff is happy to offer advice on how to provide care for your family treasures so that they are preserved for generations of use and enjoyment. Please contact:

Curator of Collections, Anna Cannizzo
acannizzo@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5765

Curator of Exhibitions, Debra Daubert
ddaubert@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5767

Archivist, Scott Cross
scross@ci.oshkosh.wi.us
920-236-5773

Will the Museum ever remove or sell something that I donated from its collections?
Yes it is possible when the Museum occasionally evaluates its collection. The Museum Staff takes great care and consideration when determining the “deaccession” or removal of objects from the collection. The process refines, strengthens, and maintains the Museum's collections for the advancement of its mission. During this process, the Museum adheres to guidelines outlined in its Collections Management Policy.