The Museum welcomes donations of historic materials that fit with its Mission and collecting needs. All potential donations are evaluated based on

  • Their fit with the Museum’s Mission
  • The object’s ability to help the Museum tell the story of Arlington Heights
  • The Museum’s ability to care for the object
  • Whether or not the Museum’s collection already contains the same or a similar object
  • The specific story associated with your specific object (who used it, where, when, why, where was it originally purchased, made, etc.)


If you believe you have an object, document, or photograph that would be appropriate for the Museum’s collection, please contact the Curator, Stephanie Lee at 847-255-1225.

Do not mail or drop off items at the Museum without prior approval by the Curator.

All items chosen for acceptance into the Museum’s collection are intended for the permanent accessioned collection, unless it is specifically stated at time of donation that the items are collected for the Education Collection or purely for research purposes.


Donation FAQ

Q. How often will it take for you to review my donation offer?

A. Typically no more than two weeks, unless additional research is needed.


Q. Do I have to fill out the form? Can I just drop my donation off at the Museum?

A. All donations to the Museum’s collection must be approved by the Curator before items are deposited at the Museum. All donations of historic materials require a signed Deed of Gift, which legally transfers ownership of the property from you to the Historical Society. Without a Deed, the items remain your property and the Museum will not be able to use them in exhibits or for research. With that in mind, we ask that you do not bring items to the Museum without making prior arrangements with the Curator.


Q. Will the Museum tell me how much my donation is worth?

A. The Internal Revenue Service regards museums as interested parties. For that reason, the Museum cannot provide appraisals of the monetary value of materials you may be interested in donating. If you’d like to have an appraisal of your items completed prior to donation, contact a professional appraiser, who can provide this service for a fee. The following organizations can provide a referral for a licensed appraiser in your area:

American Society of Appraisers

International Society of Appraisers

Appraisers Association of America


Q. If my donation offer is accepted, when will I see my items on exhibit?

A. The Museum does not guarantee that any objects or documents donated to its collection will be exhibited or displayed in any way. The Museum’s collection contains over 40,000 objects, documents, and photographs, so only a small percentage of the collection is on display at a given time. Objects in storage are always available to researchers, even if they have not been on exhibit. Additionally, providing the highest level of care for our historic objects requires that they be kept in storage the majority of the time as temperature, humidity, light, and other types of pollutants can cause irreparable damage.


Q. If my donation offer is accepted, how do I get my items to the Museum?

A. It is the responsibility of the donor to make arrangements to have the donation delivered to the Museum. The Museum will not pay to have donated items shipped. If you live locally, you have the option of dropping your donation off at the Museum. Please contact the Curator to arrange a time. Otherwise, you may ship the items.


Q. Once I have made a donation, can I get my items back in the future?

A. The Museum cannot return accessioned collection materials to the donor. At the time you made your donation, you and a Museum representative signed a Deed of Gift, which legally transferred ownership of the property from you to the Historical Society. In most cases, you may be able to make arrangements to see the objects at the Museum - for example, to show a family heirloom to other relatives. Please see our “Research” page for information about viewing collection materials that are not on public display.


Q. I’m not sure I want to donate. Can I loan my items to the Museum instead?

A. The Museum does not accept long-term loans. Occasionally, short-term loans are accepted if done in conjunction with special exhibits or other programs. With limited storage space and other resources, the Museum must commit first to the care and preservation of materials in its accessioned collection. If a loan agreement is reached between you and the Museum, the appropriate loan paperwork will need to be completed.

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