Donating Objects to Bennington Museum’s Collection

What We Collect

Bennington Museum began collecting objects in 1852. It now holds over 40,000 objects in its permanent collection. The vast majority of these have been donated by members of our community. We collect objects, artwork, photographs, documents, and books related to local history, art, and culture. Our collections focus on Bennington and the surrounding region, including adjacent areas of Massachusetts, New York State, and New Hampshire, as well as southern Vermont and the state as a whole.

Our mission and the size of the collection already under our care dictate that we must have stringent criteria for determining whether to accept new objects. Things we take into consideration include:

  • Connection to the Bennington area
  • Historical, cultural, or artistic significance
  • Condition
  • Whether the item offered duplicates an object already in the collection
  • Space/resources needed for proper care

Donation Procedure

Always make an appointment before bringing a potential donation into the museum. You will be asked to fill out a temporary custody receipt when you arrive, providing your contact information and information about the object. If it is not practical to bring the object itself, please provide good, sharp photographs and a clear description of any markings on the piece. The information you provide about the piece itself, its maker, and its history informs our decision to accept it or not.

The museum’s Collections Committee, composed of members of the staff and the Board of Trustees, makes the final decision on whether to accept objects into our permanent collection. The Collections Committee meets every other month. After the committee makes a decision, you will be contacted and asked to sign paperwork formally giving the object to the museum.

Due to space and mission constraints, we cannot accept everything that is offered to us. If the Collections Committee decides not to accept an object, it will be returned to you. We may be able to suggest a different institution that would appreciate the gift.

Bennington Museum cannot return accessioned collection materials to the donor. Our collections are held in trust for the public. Once we accept your donation for the collection, you will be asked to sign a Gift Agreement, which legally transfers ownership to the museum.

Tax Deduction and Appraisals

Donations to the museum are tax deductible, to the full extent allowed by law. Federal law prohibits museums from giving appraisals, but we are happy to work with an appraiser you select, and we appreciate receiving copies of the completed appraisal.

Display of Donations

Donations to the collection will not always be on view. Only a fraction of the objects in our collection can be on display at any given time. We have limited gallery space, and change our exhibitions regularly. Some types of objects (textiles and works on paper in particular) are damaged by exposure to light and are displayed only for short periods of time. We collect for multiple reasons, which include preservation, documentation and research, as well as display.

Support the Collection

Collections stewardship requires considerable resources of space, materials, and personnel. We are very grateful to donors who understand this “big picture” and contribute funds to support the preservation and accessibility of collections.