Guardians of The City

FAQs Concerning Donations:

Does the Museum accept everything that is offered for donation?
Where should I start?
Should I just drop off my donation?
What is a Temporary Custody Agreement? How is it different from a Deed of Gift?
Why do I have to fill out paperwork for my donation?
What if I change my mind?
What will the Museum do with my donation once it is accepted?
When will my donation be on exhibit?
Will my donation ever be loaned to someone else?
Do you accept long-term loans?
Can I take a tax deduction on my donation?


Q: Does the Museum accept everything that is offered for donation?

A: According to our Mission Statement, the Museum collects items relating to the history of San Francisco's Fire, Police, Sheriff and EMS Departments. If your donation does not pertain to our Mission Statement, the accession committee will make suggestions for a more appropriate home for your artifact(s).

Q: Where should I start?

A: If you have books, photographs, paper materials, and all other objects, please contact us by email, letter (see our main donations page for the address,) or phone, 415-431-4682 regarding your donation. Once we have your information, we will discuss your donation with you and will decide if it is something that fits into the Museum's collection. If it does, they will ask you to make an appointment to bring it for further review.

Q: Should I just drop off my donation?

A: We ask that you call us first at 415-431-4682 to make an appointment.

Q: What is a Temporary Custody Agreement? How is it different from a Deed of Gift?

A: When you drop off a potential donation, you will be asked to fill out a Temporary Custody Agreement. This form indicates that you have left something at the Museum for consideration. This is the first step in the donation process. The donation is not official at this time. Once the accession committee accepts the donation, you will be sent a Deed of Gift in the mail to sign and return. This is the legal document that officially transfers ownership from you to the Museum. Once the Deed of Gift is signed, the donation process is complete.

Q: Why do I have to fill out paperwork for my donation?

A: All donations MUST have signed paperwork in order become part of the Museum's collection. The donor may choose to remain anonymous, but we still must have signed paperwork in order to prove that the item belongs to the Museum, no matter how small the donation.

Q: What if I change my mind?

A: Once the Deed of Gift has been signed, donations cannot be returned to the donor. Please do not offer items for donation to the Museum if you are not sure that you want to donate.

Q: What will the Museum do with my donation once it is accepted?

A: Your donation may be placed in the Permanent Collection or the Teaching Collection. Donations to the Permanent Collection are designated for preservation. These items are handled and processed according to the highest museum standards by trained professionals and are exhibited only under safe and secure conditions. Items in the Teaching Collection are used by our Education Department and will be utilized in special programs including school tours, education classes, demonstrations, and other education activities.

Q: When will my donation be on exhibit?

A: Because of the Museum's changing exhibition policy, we cannot guarantee that your donation will be on view at any given time. Space limitations and conservation concerns dictate that we cannot exhibit all of our artifacts at once. There are many objects that should not be exhibited frequently in order to protect them from handling, exposure to light, and other potentially harmful things. However, exhibitions are not the only way a Museum utilizes an artifact. Occasionally, collections are made available, by appointment, for study by scholars and members of the public.

Q: Will my donation ever be loaned to someone else?

A: Artifacts from the Permanent Collection may be loaned to other museums or cultural institutions, but only those that adhere to the same high standards of professional museum practice. Items are not loaned to individuals. Also, it is mandatory that other institutions provide insurance for all items that are loaned.

Q: Do you accept long-term loans?

A: No, the Museum does not accept loans of this type. Long-term loans can create confusion in the future. Due to limited storage space, we cannot care for artifacts that are not owned by the Museum. Loans are accepted for specific purposes only, such as a temporary exhibition, for a specified period of time.

Q: Can I take a tax deduction on my donation?

A: Certainly! The Code of Ethics written by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) prohibits our staff from engaging in appraisals of donations to our museum. For your own records, we recommend that you obtain an independent appraisal. The Museum will make your donation available for inspection to the appraiser of your choice. Your signed Deed of Gift serves as proof of your donation for tax purposes.

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