This information is provided for potential donors of historic or natural objects. We are also happy to explain our policies and procedures to you and your family. Please feel free to contact the Museum Registrar with any questions or for help with the information contained here: Lisa Verwys, Museum of the Rockies, 600 W. Kagy Blvd., Bozeman, MT 59717, phone 406-994-6622, fax 406-994-2682, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you may download our collection policies document.
Thank you for your interest in the Museum of the Rockies collections of material culture and natural history. Our collections total nearly 370,000 objects covering 25 disciplines. These collections are used in a number of ways:
Natural history specimens, including geological, astronomical, and paleontological materials, are primarily used in scientific research. Through our loan and visiting researcher programs, these specimens are shared around the world, and we have access to specimens from other museums. This research is highlighted in our galleries and in exhibits developed for other museums.
Our photograph & film archives, with over 90,000 images, document the history of our region from the advent of photography to the present. These images are actively used in our exhibits, loaned to other museums, and are available for personal or professional research or for purchase by commercial users.
Historic and archaeological artifacts make up the great majority of our collections. Covering a broad range of disciplines and representing the great variety of human activity in our region over the past 1500 years and into the 21st century, this material is intended for long-term preservation. It is used primarily for exhibit and for teaching museum methods to MSU students and interns, as well as by outside researchers. Our small fine art collection is supportive to the historical and archaeological collections.
Teaching and Living History collections are actively used by interpreters and visitors. Teaching collections support educational activities associated with our exhibits and other programs. Living History collections are those things used by interpreters at the Tinsley Historic House and farm—the Tinsley House itself is our largest artifact! The Living History program interprets life in rural Montana between 1890 and 1910.
You may ask to have your donation placed in either the “permanent” or the “non-permanent” collections. The permanent collections (the first 3 listed above) are controlled by museum staff and require special considerations and permissions for use. This helps ensure that they will be preserved as long as possible. Teaching and Living History collections, the “non-permanent” collections, are actively used. They are more frequently in the public eye, but will eventually wear out and be disposed of.
Appraisal of your donation can happen at any time prior to, during, or after the donation process. The Museum of the Rockies cannot provide monetary valuations to donors, but we are happy to work the appraiser of your choice. Please ask us if you would like more details about appraising your donation.
Donating your object to the museum involves several steps. Should we choose to not accept your donation at any point in this process, we will return your object to you and will be happy to help you find another appropriate repository.
If you prefer to keep your object prior to a final decision, we will ask for a photograph of the donation so that we can share it more easily with the staff involved. If you’d like us to hold your donation, we will give you a temporary receipt for it. While your object is in our hands, we will take the utmost care of it.
Your offer will first be discussed with the curator or manager of the discipline represented. The curator may accept the object for consideration by committee, or decide that it is inappropriate for our collections.
After the curator’s acceptance, all donations to the permanent collections require committee approval; this committee generally meets quarterly. Donations to the non-permanent collections require approval of the managers of those collections, but do not require committee approval.
Upon committee approval (or, for non-permanent collections, after the manager’s approval), we will send you a Gift Agreement, which is the document that transfers legal ownership of the object from you to us. Once we receive the signed Gift Agreement, your object becomes part of our collections, to be incorporated into our programs and activities accordingly.
You may specify a “credit line” that will become part of the exhibit label should your donation be exhibited. Please talk with us if you are interested in this, or if your gift is in memory of someone. If not otherwise specified, the credit line for your donation will read “Gift of [your name]”. You may also request that your gift be anonymous; if so, you will not be identified to the public, but in order for your gift to be legal we must have on file a signed gift document with your contact information.
The Museum prefers that object gifts be unrestricted, meaning that once the object is legally ours, we control its use. Any limitations or restrictions to this policy must be discussed and agreed to by both parties prior to signing the gift document. You and your family may “visit” your donation during normal business hours; please contact us a few days ahead of time to schedule a visit so that we can have your donation ready for you. Please note that:
Restrictions may not be placed by donors or their heirs subsequent to signing a Gift Agreement or other legal gift document.
Restrictions cannot be placed on donations to the Teaching or Living History collections.
We cannot guarantee that any object or group of objects will be exhibited or actively researched, cannot place any object on permanent exhibit, and cannot loan objects back to donors or their families.
The Museum respects the protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources; to this end, we cannot accept:
For more information, please contact the Interim Registrar, Lisa Verwys, at email@example.com.