Heritage Hill State Park accepts selected donations for its artifact and archival collections. Before we accept an item into the collection, it is reviewed by our Artifacts Committee. Not everything is accepted.
If you are interested in donating to our collection, please first read the information below, and then fill out our Object Donation Form (link is at the bottom of the page).
What types of items does Heritage Hill collect?
We collect items that were made or used in northeastern Wisconsin that have significance to the buildings we exhibit. Ideally, we would know where the item was created and used, when it was created, who created it, and who the owner was. Some examples include:
- Historic objects
- Oral histories
- Business records
- Period-appropriate clothing
What types of items does Heritage Hill typically NOT collect?
We usually do not accept:
- Family bibles
- Newspapers or newspaper clippings
- Wedding dress
- Christening Gowns
- Unidentified photographs
- Items from outside our geographic region
Currently, we are not accepting the following items, due to duplicates in our collection:
- Historic sewing machines
- Oil lamps and lanterns
- Pianos or organs
- Couches (and other living room/parlor furniture)
How do I donate objects, images, or documents to the collection?
The best way to start is to fill out our online Object Donation Form. The more information you can provide about your item(s), the better. Once your information has been reviewed, a member of the Artifacts Committee will follow up with you, and if needed, schedule an appointment to learn more about your item(s). Please understand the response may not be immediate due to limited staff and committee members.
Can I send or bring my item(s) to the park immediately?
No, please submit the Object Donation Form first. An appointment is needed so a staff or committee member can take the time to talk with you and examine your item(s). We do not have staff available to handle unscheduled donations. Heritage Hill reserves the right to dispose of any unsolicited materials delivered to the park.
How does Heritage Hill decide to accept a donation?
Staff assess an item’s historical significance to northeastern Wisconsin, its physical condition, its history of ownership and use, and if we already have something similar in our collection. The length of the evaluation process depends on the item(s), and the staff and committee members’ schedules. The entire process may take a few months, and we thank you for your patience.
What happens to my item(s) after the donation?
By signing our deed of gift, you are transferring ownership of your item(s) to Heritage Hill, and guaranteeing that the item was legally yours to give. Once the donation is complete, the item is assigned an identification number (if it will not be used for interactive purposes), cataloged, and given a home, whether this is on display or for sure in one of our buildings or in our artifact collection.
Will my item(s) be on display?
We do not guarantee your item will be displayed in a building or exhibit. Items not on display are preserved in our secure, climate-controlled storage area. Your item will also be available to researchers and future exhibitions.
Can Heritage Hill appraise the monetary value of my item?
No. The IRS considers museums to be an interested party, so we are not allowed to appraise items. If you would like your item valued, please consult a professional appraiser. The following are resources to find an appraiser:
Can I use my donation as a tax deduction?
Heritage Hill is a 501.c.3 organization, so your donation is generally tax deductible. To ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit, we recommended that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, and/or the IRS. Value of the donation cannot be determined by the Heritage Hill.
If I donate (or my ancestor donated) materials to Heritage Hill, can they be returned to me at my request?
Items that have been formally accepted into the collection cannot be returned to the donor or their descendants. At the end of the donation process, donors sign a Deed of Gift which legally transfers ownership of the materials, as well as all associated rights and interests, to Heritage Hill.
If I’m not interested in donating my historic item, how can I best care for it?
There are some online resources that provide tips for how to care for different types of historic items. Here are a few good places to start to learn about preserving your heirlooms:
- American Institute for Conservation
- National Park Service
- Minnesota Historical Society
- Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute