Donations to Peabody Museum Collections

Policies & Procedures

Thank you for considering a donation to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. It is through such generosity that our collections continue to grow. We are always interested to hear more about any object you wish to donate to the Museum. We have prepared an Acquisitions FAQ page to answer your questions about the process.

Our educational mission and the size of the collection under our care dictate stringent criteria for determining whether to accept new objects. In order to assist us with our review, please provide the following information:

  • Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address.
  • Object description, including materials, date of manufacture and/or collection, and dimensions.
  • Photograph of object.
  • A verifiable record of authenticity and provenance (history of ownership). The Museum will make every effort to ascertain that items offered are not stolen, wrongfully converted, or acquired under false pretenses. The Museum must have reasonable assurance under the circumstances that a potential acquisition was not exported after July 1, 1971, in violation of the laws of its country of origin and/or the country where it was last legally owned. The provenance of acquired items shall be a matter of public record.
  • If the object incorporates any fish and wildlife components, information about the prospective donation must include permits or other documentation demonstrating that the object was collected, transported, exported, imported, acquired, transferred, and possessed in compliance with all United States and foreign laws.
  • Information about prior treatments with preservative chemicals, such as moth balls or insecticides.
  • Please do not send unsolicited objects to the Museum.

Contact Us

Peabody Museum Research
Peabody Museum
11 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, Mass. 02138

Review Process, Timing, & Conditions

  • The Museum will consider the suitability of a potential acquisition based on the information provided. Our Collections Review Committee meets monthly to consider potential acquisitions. After the Director receives the Committee’s recommendation and has reached a final decision, you will be notified of the Museum’s decision.
  • For year-end donations, please submit all information no later than December 1. The Museum has an extended winter holiday and will process last-minute donations early in the following year.
  • We may be unable to accept your kind offer for a variety of reasons. Some objects may be more appropriate to or may be better used by another museum, in which case we will try to give you the names and contact details of museums that may be interested.
  • All acquisitions are to be outright and unconditional and are irrevocable upon the formal and physical transfer to the Museum.
  • Gifts to the Peabody Museum are deductible from taxable income, in accordance with the provision of Federal income tax law. Federal law prevents the Museum from providing identification services or appraisal values for donated items. Donors are responsible for appraisals of value. Please contact the regional branch of the Appraisers Association of America,  American Society of Appraisers, or Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association directly. The Museum is in no way affiliated with these organizations.

Access New Objects

When the Museum formally acquires new objects for its collections, these additions are made accessible to the Harvard community and the wider public in one or all of the following ways:

• Exhibited at the Peabody Museum (see Exhibitions).
• Loaned for exhibition in other museums (see On the Road).
• Loand for scholarly research at other museums or universities.
• Made available to students and scholars visiting the Peabody Museum (see Collections).
• Digitized and made accessible online through our website (see Collections Online).