Artifact Donation FAQ

I have an artifact I’d like to donate to Arlington Historical Society. How should I do it?
Thanks for thinking of us! Before the museum can accept your donation, we must make sure it’s good
fit. Please fill out the Donation form. The Collections Committee will review your artifact and
contact you if it meets our Scope of Collection. Please do not bring your artifact to the museum until
you have been contacted by the Museum Director.

What is a Scope of Collection?
Good question! A Scope of Collection is a description of the types of artifacts that Arlington Historical
Society collects. It is approved by the Board of Directors and helps us ensure that we are preserving
artifacts that are most relevant to the history of Arlington County.

So, what types of artifacts do you collect?
We collect artifacts with a documented connection to Arlington County history, focusing on artifacts
related to significant people, events, communities, and businesses. We are actively seeking artifacts
representing or contributing to our historical understanding of the development, growth, and diversity
of Arlington County.

Can I just leave it here at the museum for you to look at?
Unfortunately, no. It is important legally and ethically that we carefully document the source and
background of each artifact. Virginia law governs what we can do with artifacts that are left at the
museum without proper documentation. Following the law takes a lot of time and money. As an all-
volunteer organization this makes it harder for us to focus on sharing exciting history with you!

What happens to my artifact if you decide to accept it?
Most artifacts go to our Permanent Collection. Artifacts in this collection are intended to be preserved
as long as possible and may be used for display in the museum or research. Some artifacts go to our
Educational or Display Collections. Artifacts in the Educational and Display Collections may be handled
by the public and are expected to break down over time. These artifacts are very important to our
educational goals!

In some cases, we may accept an artifact with the intention that it be sold to raise funds for care of the collection. In this case you will be notified before we accept the artifact and you will be asked to acknowledge that the artifact may be sold.

When will I get to see my artifact in the museum?
We hold thousands of artifacts in the public trust for the people of Arlington County. Unfortunately,
we can’t guarantee that an artifact will go on display. We are currently creating a publicly accessible
website where you can view artifacts in our collection.

Please fill out the Donation form.