COLLECTIONS LIE AT THE HEART of a museum and distinguish them from other institutions. As the official museum for Whatcom County, and as a department of the City of Bellingham, The Whatcom Museum collections are truly your collections — we hold the heritage of this community in perpetual trust and connect the Museum to the art, culture, and history of the peoples of Northwest Washington State and the world community.

The Whatcom Museum acquires and preserve physical representations of Northwest Washington history and Northwest art, as well as related American art that has directly influenced the development of Northwest art. Collecting objects for historical and cultural significance has been the basis for considering additions to the History, Ethnology and Photo Archives Collections. And then there are the Birds. Explore this section to find out more about your collection, and then make a date to come see it!

Donating Artwork or Historic Materials to the Collection
Gifts of artwork and historic materials play an important role in helping the Museum expand its permanent collection. Objects offered for acquisition must be reviewed and approved by the Museum's Collections Committee, which is charged with accepting only those items of historic or artistic significance in support of the Museum's mission.

To ensure that the Collections Committee has sufficient information to properly evaluate your proposed donation, you should be prepared to submit the following information:

A photograph of the object
A brief description of the object, including dimensions
All available information on the age, history and origin of the object
Your name, address and phone number

Donations of tangible items may be tax deductible to the extent of the full fair market value of the objects donated. It is the sole responsibility of the prospective donor to provide Fair Market Valuation. The Museum is prohibited from providing a tax receipt for gifts of $5,000 or more without a formal written appraisal submitted by the prospective donor. If you are interested in making a gift of artwork or historic materials, please contact the collections staff at 360-778-8955.

Appraisal, Authentication, and Identification
According to IRS law, museum professionals are unable to directly appraise, authenticate or identify art as a public service. Our participation in such activities can be seen as potentially creating conflicts of interest. If you are looking for professionals to assist you with any of the services listed above, please see below for a short list of organizations that can help.

Art Dealers Association of America
575 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212.940.8590
Fax: 212.940.6484

The National Antique & Art Dealers Association of America
220 East 57th Street
New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212.826.9707
Fax: 212.832.9493

The Appraisers Association of America
386 Park Avenue South, Suite 2000
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 212.889.5404
Fax: 212.889.550

For assistance with authentication and identification, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has two research libraries where members of the public can get assistance from the library staff in tracking down object-related information and additional resources. Contact the SAM Libraries at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 206.654.3220 (SAM downtown) or 206.654.3202 (Seattle Asian Art Museum) for more information.




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