The Whatcom Museum holds close to 30,000 objects of art, history, and ethnography in its collection and more than 200,000 images and related ephemera in its Photo Archives. Throughout our 75-year history, we have predominately relied upon donations from the public to add to and strengthen our collection. Here is some general information about website access to a selection from our collection, as well as information about donations and resources for appraisals, authentication, and repairs.
The Whatcom Museum seeks to provide public access to its broad and varied collections through exhibitions, educational programs, and now through greater presence of images on our website. Watch for new groups of images to be added regularly that will continue to feature objects, works of art, and historic photographs that best illuminate the history and culture of our community and the broader Pacific Northwest region. Access to selected images from our collection can be found HERE!
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 and condition
- All available information on the age, history, and origin of the object
- Your name, address, and phone number
Donating to a museum is not a fast process. If you need your item removed from your home quickly, please explore other options for donation.
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 Maria Coltharp, curator of collections & registrar, at 360.778.8955 or via email. Response may take a few weeks depending on exhibition schedules and project workload. We appreciate your patience!
Appraisal, Authentication, and Identification
Due to IRS law, museum professionals are discouraged from directly appraising, authenticating, or identifying 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 Appraisal Department
205 Lexington Avenue, Suite #901
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 212.488-5530 Fax: 646. 688.6809
The National Antique and Art Dealers Association of America
220 East 57th Street New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212.826.9707 Fax: 212.832.9493
For assistance with authentication and identification, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has two research libraries where staff can assist members of the public in researching object-related information and additional resources. For more information, visit their website, email them, or call the SAM Libraries at 206.654.3220 (SAM downtown) or 206.654.3202 (Seattle Asian Art Museum) for more information.
Another comprehensive resource is the Getty Research Institute’s Appraisals Research Guide.
Conservation and Repairs
If you would like to find a professional to clean, repair, or assess the condition of a historic object or work of art that you own, please refer to the website for the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works provided below. Using the ‘Find a Conservator’ tool, you can search for a professional in your area with the expertise you need. The Whatcom Museum does not make recommendations for these services due to liability issues.
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works
1156 15th Street NW, Ste. 320 Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202.452.9545 Fax: 202.452.9328