Donating to the Autry

How do I donate artworks, objects, images, or documents to the Autry Museum of the American West?

If you have artworks, objects, or materials (including library, archival, or historical documents) that you believe would be of potential interest to the Autry Museum of the American West, we would like to hear from you. Due to the volume of offers the museum receives, we ask that you contact us using the Online Collection Donation Form  on this website to share a description of your proposed donation. If you are unable to complete the online form, please call the Curatorial Department at 323.495.4278 and request that a copy of the form be mailed to you.

Once the form is submitted and received, your proposed donation will be assigned to a curator, librarian, or collections management staff member who will contact you within four to six weeks. If we are interested in accepting your donation, museum staff will work with you to receive the artworks, objects, or materials. The offered donation will then be reviewed by the Acquisition Committee, which meets twice a month. Please note that regularly scheduled meetings may be postponed when staff time is committed to work on special exhibitions or special projects.

Following formal acceptance by the committee, you will be issued a deed of gift to document the transfer of objects, images, or documents to the museum. The Autry Museum policy does not allow for restrictions on donations.

Can I mail or drop off a donation?

The museum does not accept donations through the mail or in person unless previous arrangements have been made with the appropriate curatorial, library, or collections management staff member who is authorized to receive offered donations on the Autry premises. All unsolicited donations sent via mail will be returned to sender.

How are potential donations reviewed?

The Acquisition Committee is composed of staff knowledgeable about both the scope of the museum’s collection and the conservation issues associated with object, image, and document care. The assessment criteria followed combines best practices according to The American Alliance of Museums and the Autry’s current collecting priorities. The condition of the offered donation is also taken into consideration as is the availability of museum resources required to store, care, and make accessible its collection. The sensitive nature of the artworks, objects, or materials or ownership of copyrights can also factor into acquisitions decisions.

Will the Autry Museum appraise my donation for its monetary value?

The museum does not provide appraisals of the monetary value of offered donations because the Internal Revenue Service regards museums and libraries as interested parties. Professional appraisers, however, will perform this service for a fee. To find a licensed appraiser in your area, contact one of the following organizations for a referral: the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America.

Can I take a tax deduction for my donation?

The Autry Museum is recognized as a qualified charitable organization, so a donation to the museum’s collection is generally tax deductible. To ensure that your donation is tax deductible and you receive the maximum tax benefit, we recommend that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, and/or the Internal Revenue Service. You may also consult Internal Revenue Service Publication No. 526, Charitable Contributions, and Publication No. 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.

Will the Autry Museum exhibit the materials in my donation?

The museum cannot guarantee that any artworks, objects, or materials donated to the collection will be exhibited. Only a small fraction of the collection is on view at any given time. However, there are other ways that your donation may be experienced by the public or studied by researchers.

Artworks, objects, and materials from the collection are occasionally loaned to other institutions for temporary exhibitions or made available for viewing on our Collections Online website. Researchers of all kinds will have greater access to artworks, objects, and materials in the collection at our new educational, research, and collections care facility, the Autry Resources Center, anticipated to open in late 2019.

If I donate materials to the Autry Museum, will they be returned to me at my request?

The Autry’s policy dictates that the museum cannot return accessioned collection artworks, objects, or materials to the donor. Once the committee accepts your donation for the collection, you will be asked to sign a deed of gift, which legally transfers ownership of the artwork, object, or materials to the museum.

Can donated materials be removed from the Autry Museum collection?

The museum may, with approval from the board of trustees, remove artworks, objects, or materials from the collection through a process called deaccessioning, according to strict standards as prescribed by The American Alliance of Museums.

What if I want to sell something to the Autry Museum?

The Autry possesses limited acquisitions funds. Purchases are made according to curatorial priorities, including the specific needs of special collections and exhibitions. If you would like to offer something for purchase, please also fill out the online collections donations form and indicate “purchase” in the appropriate box.