Types of Donations
The Banneker-Douglas Museum typically accepts two forms of contributions: financial offerings and cultural heritage materials.
Financial contributions can be made by:
- Contributing cash or check to the BDMF Donation Box, located in the museum lobby
- Checks made out the Banneker-Douglas Museum
Please Note: As a state institution, financial contributions to BDM are not tax deductible.
Cultural Heritage Materials
Donations of historical and cultural materials of all kinds relating to the history of African Americans in Maryland or African American history of national significance. Please visit the collections page for a link to our online database.
Prospective Donor Questionnaire
Interested in donating? If so, fill our our Prospective Donor Questionnaire including photographs of the object (s) and either mail it to our Curator of Collections at:
84 Franklin Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Why and What does the BDM collect?
A: Purpose of Collections – The mission of the Banneker-Douglass Museum is to interpret, preserve, and increase knowledge and understanding of Maryland’s African American history and culture. The Museum will actively use its Collections to provide a basis for its exhibitions and educational programs; for research and study; and for cultural and educational awareness with the state of Maryland.
Scope of Collections – The Scope of the Museum’s Permanent, Research, and Educational Collections include objects significant to the history and culture of Maryland’s African American communities in the 19th 20th, and 21st centuries. The Museum shall actively collect domestic and occupations artifacts, photographs, oral histories, fine arts, architectural elements, decorative and applied arts, textiles, books, popular entertainment, memorabilia, toys, dolls, and archival materials (letters, documents, and diaries).
From BDM Collections Management Policy (2001)
Q: What is in the BDM collection?
A: The Collection presently includes artifacts and journals donated by Arctic explorer Herbert M. Frisby; photographs, equipment, and personal effects of photographer Thomas Baden donated by Barbara Bentley; everyday items used by African American Marylanders in the 1920s and 1930s; medical instruments and artifacts from the 1920s through the 1950s; West African sculpture and utilitarian objects of the Dogon, Malinke, Bambara, Baule, and other cultures of the Guinea Coast; and works by Black Maryland artists, including Joyce Scott, Nathaniel Gibbs, and Hughie Lee-Smith.
Q: How does the process begin?
A: The prospective donor must fill out the Prospective Donor Questionnaire, which is then reviewed by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture Banneker-Douglass Museum Committee. The prospective donor will then be contacted with a response as to if the Museum is interested in the object.
Q: How long do I have to wait before I know if my object is accepted?
A: Every object is presented to the Banneker-Douglass Museum Committee which reviews the history, significance, validity, and impact of the object. The Committee meets quarterly so when you submit the Prospective Donor Questionnaire, the Curator of Collections will inform you of when the next meeting will take place.
Q: Who is on the Banneker-Douglass Museum Committee and what are they looking for?
A: The Committee is comprised of members of MCAAHC, MCAAHC staff, BDM staff, interns, volunteers, and individuals who have knowledge of and/or experience in African American history and culture; and/or individuals who have knowledge and/or experience in visual arts, archives, of museology.
The Committee reviews each object and bases their recommendations on established Evaluation Selection Process Criteria that is in line with the Banneker-Douglass Museum’s collections management policy
Q: If the Museum accepts my donation, what happens next?
A: Congrats! If your object is accepted, you will be sent a Deed of Gift to review and sign. Please read the paperwork carefully, as once the object is donated, it is considered to be in the public trust. Therefore, you will not be able to request the object back. The Museum Staff will then arrange a time for you to deliver the object to the Museum or in some cases, we will travel to retrieve the object from you. If the object is able to be mailed, that may also be an option.
Q: Can I place a restriction on the donation?
A: As a general rule we do not accept donations that are made with restrictions (for example: a requirement to always display an object or to retain it in perpetuity).
Q: Will you identify or appraise my donation?
A: It is a conflict of interest for museum employees or volunteers to provide identifications or appraisals of donations and is strictly forbidden by museum policy and professional codes of conduct. If you need assistance identifying or valuing an object please contact a certified appraiser.
Q: Will the museum purchase my objects?
A: Although you are welcome to make an offer to sell, please note that we are rarely able to purchase objects.
Q: What happens to my object once it is donated?
A: Once donated, item(s) become part of the Museum’s permanent or educational collection. The Museum carefully holds in public trust all items which it has received by donation. The Curator of Collections documents each object individually and catalogs it into our database PastPerfect where it will be available for the public to research.
Q: Can I have my objects back?
A: Once an object is donated, it is legally the property of the State of Maryland acting through the Banneker-Douglass Museum and cannot be returned to the donor.
Q: Can I get a tax deduction for donating my collection?
A: If you want to take a tax deduction, you must independently provide all valuations or arrange for a qualified appraisal. The IRS tax code prohibits the Banneker-Douglass Museum staff from making appraisals for tax purposes.
Q: Will the Banneker-Douglass Museum display my donation?
A: While each object in our collections is significant we cannot guarantee that your donation will be displayed. Only a percentage of our collections are on display at any given time – this is universally true of all museums. The objects in the permanent collections are made available for research, publication, and loan, in addition to exhibition. Accepted donations contribute to the strength of our collections regardless of whether they are on display.
Q: How will I be acknowledged by the Museum? What if I want to make an anonymous donation?
A: Every year, the museum completes an Annual Report which lists all donors. On your Deed of Gift, you have the option of changing how you are acknowledged by the Museum for your gift. Typically, whenever the object is used for exhibition, the donor is listed as indicated on the Deed of Gift. You may wish to donate an object in the memory or in honor of someone else; you may list this person instead of yourself. You may also change this credit line to Anonymous. Your official Deed of Gift will list your name as donor for legal reasons; however, the credit line is entirely up to you!
Q: Can the Museum ever dispose of my donation?
A: All objects donated to the museum are held in perpetuity as long as:
- They support the Museum mission statement
- They retain physical integrity, their identity, and their authenticity.
- They can be properly stored, preserved, and used.
Disposal or exchange of any artifact(s) is called a “deaccession” and is made in full conformity with the Museum’s guidelines for management of interpretive collections. Deaccessions of item(s) in the permanent collection are at the Museum’s discretion. Some reasons an object might be deaccessioned are that the object no longer meets the Museum’s mission or the object’s condition has deteriorated. Donors are always contacted when an object they donated is deaccessioned and given the option of taking the object back.
Q: What if the Banneker-Douglass Museum Committee rejects my donation offer?
A: Don’t take it personally! The Museum has a very limited amount of space to house collections in perpetuity. As a result, we are very selective about what we agree to accept for donations. If your object is not approved, we will attempt to help you find another, more appropriate museum that may need have a specific need for that object type or have more storage/exhibition space.
Q: Why can’t you just take my object without all this paperwork?
A: When the Museum accepts an object into the collection, it is committed to caring for that object for the full extent of the object’s life, which includes preservation, conservation, and appropriate housing. This can be very costly, so we must carefully review each prospective donation to determine if it will be a significant addition to the collection before we can make this commitment.
We also want to be sure you understand the donation process in full and this paperwork helps us explain the process and all of its implications. Lastly, there are legal ramifications to taking donations from private individuals and we must protect the Museum’s liability by insuring that we have all the proper paperwork in order before the donation is accepted and brought to the Museum.