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Artifact Donation FAQs

Thank you for your interest in contributing another piece of history to the El Paso Museum of History-EPMH. As keeper of the community’s memory, EPMH’s permanent collection and archives reflect the people who have lived here. These collections are comprised of more than 10,000 artifacts, documents, images, and personal stories chronicling the growth of El Paso- one of largest border metroplexes in the world. Donated items are preserved at the museum to be used for research, interpretation of community history, and as artifacts in exhibits and educational programs.

If you are interested in donating items to the museum, email us at with the subject line titled “Donation Request”. Please include a description of intent, color images of the object(s), rough dimensions of the object(s), and provenance information that will help museum staff understand the history of the object(s) 

Please allow 1-2 weeks for processing of your inquiry.

***Please note the El Paso Museum of History does not acquire works based on unsolicited submissions. Please do not send or deliver unsolicited material to the museum for potential donation. The museum is not responsible for returning or caring for any unsolicited material.*** 

How are my donations reviewed to be accepted into the collection?

Once an artifact donation request is made, the item(s) presented will first be reviewed by a member of the Collections staff who will then make the recommendation to the Museum and Cultural Affairs Advisory Board-MCAAB . This board is made up knowledgeable members in both the scope of the museum’s collection as well as the conservation issues associated with artifact and document care.

This board uses several questions as guidelines to evaluate the potential of an item. These questions are:

Does the object fit with the museum’s Mission and Collections Management Policy?

Does the object represent a significant event, person, community, place, business, or organization in the El Paso/Juarez region?

Does the object fill a void in, duplicate an item in, or support items in the existing collection?

Is there documentation (written or oral) on the object?

What is the overall condition of the object?

What impact would the object have on available storage space?

What happens after MCAAB makes its decision?

The museum’s Curator will contact individuals via phone or email and inform them of the decision. Further discussion on the next steps will take place at that time.

Will an item I donate be on display?

The El Paso Museum of History cannot guarantee that any objects or documents donated to its collection will be exhibited unless expressly collected for that purpose. Only a small fraction of the collection is on view at any given time. This minimizes the risk of damage to artifacts and documents and helps us preserve those items for future generations. However, artifacts and documents can be made accessible for research purposes.

If my item is not on display, can I see it?

If you have donated an item to the collection and it is not on display, please know that it has been properly stored in the best materials to promote preservation of its current condition, and will remain so until removed for exhibition or research purposes. Generally, only authorized staff has access to permanent collections.

Can the museum give me an appraisal of my donation?

No. The El Paso Museum of History does not provide appraisals of materials proposed for donation or for any other reason. Because the Internal Revenue Service regards museums and libraries as interested parties, monetary appraisals prepared for donors by such institutions are subject to question or disqualification. However, professional appraisers 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 

International Society of Appraisers

Appraisers Association of America

Please know that we recommend getting an appraisal of items prior to proposing them to the museum for donation. All fees associated with appraisal are the responsibility of the donor.

Can I loan an item to the museum?

Yes, the El Paso Museum of History does borrow items for exhibit. In addition to the museum’s artifacts, we sometimes borrow items that are not represented in our collection from other cultural institutions, businesses, or individuals to enhance our exhibits. However, the museum is unable to accept long term loans, loans for an unspecified period of time, or items that are not related to a specific exhibit. We may seek artifacts in support of upcoming exhibits, but these loans are for a limited time, no more than 12 months, and are based on our needs as determined by the Collections staff.

Part of the El Paso Museums & Cultural Affairs Family.