First of all, thank you for thinking of us! Without your generous donations, we would not be able to fulfill our Mission and tell the many stories from Aiken County’s history. We wish we could accept every object, but storage, funding, and staffing limitations prevent us from doing so. Therefore, there are certain policies and procedures in place for object donations. The most important information pertaining to potential donations is outlined below in the FAQs.
Once you have read the FAQs, you can download the Potential Donation Form and submit it following the instructions provided on the form.
You should read the FAQs page in its entirety, as it will answer many of your questions, including, most importantly, what we do and do not accept into the collection.
Next, you should fill out the Potential Donation Form and return it to the Collections Manager either by mail or email. Contact information is listed on the form. You are welcome to drop the form off in person as well, but please be aware that Collections staff will not be able to meet with you at the time you drop off the form, as staff is available by appointment only.
If you have trouble downloading the form, please email the Collections Manager or send by mail the following:
Information about the original owner, names of people who used the object(s), and when (circa dates)
Connection to Aiken County history and any interesting stories surrounding the object(s)
How you came into possession of the object(s)
Condition of object(s)
Photographs of the object(s)
Typically, you will hear back in about 7-10 business days from when the Collections Manager has received your completed form. Please be patient during this time, as ACHM operates with a small staff.
If we are interested in accepting your donation into our collection, you will be contacted to set up an appointment to deliver the object to the Museum. You will be given a copy of a Temporary Custody Receipt, which is a document that indicates that the objects have been left in the custody of the Aiken County Historical Museum for acquisition. Staff will then send you a Deed of Gift. You will sign and return this form, which verifies that you are the owner and that you are transferring ownership and all rights to the piece to the Museum.
If we are unable to accept the object, you will still be notified.
ACHM does not accept drop-off/drop-by donations. Items dropped off at or mailed to the Museum without an appointment are considered abandoned property, subject to State of South Carolina in the Code of South Carolina, Title 27, Chapter 45 “Abandoned Cultural Property Act”
First and foremost, all objects acquired by the Museum must fit within the scope of our Mission Statement, which is as follows: The Aiken County Historical Museum, under the direction of the Aiken County Historical Commission, collects, preserves, promotes, interprets, and exhibits the historical objects of Aiken County and its surrounds.
Historical materials that relate to the general political, social, economic, cultural, and military history of Aiken County
Historical materials that relate to notable occurrences, people, and extraordinary events associated with Aiken County
Historical materials that qualify as examples of folk or decorative arts that were used in Aiken County, produced by Aiken County residents, or produced and used by residents of the surrounding area whose tradition relates to Aiken County traditions
Historical natural science and art materials that represent or preserve Aiken County history
Popular and scholarly research materials in the fields of Aiken County history, archaeology, and pre-history
Above all, ACHM must be confident that staff is able to properly care for, conserve, store, and secure the objects, in keeping with professional standards
Preference will be given to objects that will tell a specific and interesting story about Aiken County residents, places, and events
Objects must be in reasonably good, complete, and/or original condition. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis for extremely rare or unique objects
Objects that are in less than good condition may be accepted for our Education Collection or Supplementary Collection and these objects may be handled, placed on exhibit, and/or used for demonstrations
Books, newspaper clippings, or other archival materials may be accepted into our Research Library Collection, especially if they are duplicates or copies
Donors may not place conditions or restrictions on the use of items they have donated
We do not accept the following:
A duplicate object, unless the object provides a more interesting story or the existing object in our collection is in poor condition
Objects for which the Director and Collections Manager anticipate no foreseeable use for exhibition, research, or education
Any donations believed to be improperly represented as to legality, authenticity, condition, or value until such time as the original claim has been substantiated by a competent, independent authority or until the attribution or value has been changed to reflect the true character of the items offered for donation
All potential donations must go through a review process based on the information provided in the above answers. Not only do we have limited storage space, exhibition space, and staff resources, it is also expensive to provide care for museum objects. Therefore, not all potential donations are accepted.
ACHM cannot guarantee when or where specific objects will be exhibited. As the stewards of historic material, we use nationally-recognized best practices to preserve all objects for future generations. This means objects will rotate off display to minimize damage from light and other destructive elements, ensuring continued safety, and long-term survival. Your object may also be loaned to another institution for a temporary exhibit.
ACHM cannot provide appraisal information to you for ethical and legal reasons. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers such activity a conflict of interest. If you plan to get an appraisal for objects, you must get them appraised before donating them to us.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows individuals to take a tax deduction for items donated to charitable organizations. IRS Publication 561 will tell you about what they require and how you can go about using this tax benefit. If you are interested in the tax benefits of donating your objects, you should discuss this with a qualified tax specialist or attorney.
ACHM does not accept loaned objects for reasons other than immediate exhibition purposes.
No. Once an object is donated and the Donor has signed the Deed of Gift form, the objects become legally owned by ACHM. We are unable to reverse the donation.
Other family members, museums, cultural institutions, or schools may be interested in having the object. Museum staff will do what we can to help find the right place for your treasures.
Our collection is always growing, so ACHM may need to remove items from time to time. This is not done without very careful and thorough consideration. Our Collections Policy states that items may be removed if they are determined to be unnecessary duplicates, irrelevant to our Mission, excessively deteriorated or broken, dangerous/volatile/toxic, or if the object’s preservation needs exceed our resources. Our Policy states that we have the right to dispose of objects via gift, sale, exchange, or destruction. If it is deemed appropriate by the Director, as a courtesy, the donor or their designated heir(s) will be contacted prior to the removal of an object.