What does History Colorado collect?
We collect a wide variety of materials relating to Colorado history, including art, artifacts, books, manuscripts and papers, maps, sound recordings, photographs, moving images, and more.
We already have a robust collection of materials from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A strong Colorado connection and compelling story are key for consideration of any new acquisition.
We are currently focusing our collecting on three areas:
- Items made or used after 1942 that have a strong Colorado connection
- Material from diverse communities across Colorado that are under-represented in the collections
- Items that enhance the understanding and knowledge of Colorado history in significant ways and help us tell stories that we otherwise could not
We are actively seeking materials related to the following categories:
- Contemporary architects, urban planners and projects
- Political history after 1942
- Women’s history
- Colorado outdoors and the environment (including land use and water rights)
- Cannabis / Marijuana
- Diversity across Colorado
- What doesn’t History Colorado collect?
In order to make the best use of limited space and resources, we focus on collecting materials that fill in gaps rather than items that duplicate those already in our collection.
We are generally unable to accept materials that do not have a strong connection to Colorado history or whose history and background are uncertain or generic.
We may not be able to accept materials that are in poor condition or have restrictions on use or copyright.
Currently we are not accepting the following:
- Wedding gowns
- Unidentified photographs (generic photographs lacking place or people identifications)
- China sets
- Large equipment
- Newspaper major event headlines and collections of clippings
- Items prior to 1940
- How do I donate artifacts, papers, or photos to History Colorado?
A great first step is to check whether we already have a similar item in our collection. You can check our online collection catalogs at historycolorado.org/catalogs.
All potential donors must fill out a Donation Interest Form. The form is below, or if you prefer to fill out the form in hard copy, you can download PDF version here and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-866-2306 and we can mail you a copy of the form.
Once received, your Donation Interest Form will be assigned to appropriate curatorial staff, who will review and contact you to follow up. Due to the number of offers we receive, it may take up to two weeks for a curator to contact you.
- How does History Colorado decide whether to accept my donation?
Each donation offer is reviewed by curatorial staff with subject expertise in the materials offered. Curators use our institutional policies and procedures to guide decisions on whether or not a donation can be accepted. Every donation is different, but generally we will consider the item’s historical or cultural significance, the history of the item, whether we already own a similar item, condition, and whether History Colorado has the resources required to care for the item and make it accessible. Donations that are recommended for acceptance are subject to a vote by our Collection Committee.
Due to the number of offers we receive and the careful consideration required to make acquisition decisions, it may take several weeks to complete the process.
- Can I send or bring in a donation?
History Colorado is not able to accept materials mailed or brought in to our museums unless prior arrangements have been made with staff. To begin the donation process, please fill out a Donation Interest Form. Unsolicited materials delivered to History Colorado may be returned to sender or disposed of.
- Will you buy my materials from me?
Only in very exceptional cases. You may be eligible for a tax deduction for your donation. Consult with your tax specialist to determine eligibility.
- Will History Colorado provide appraisals or value estimates for artifacts?
Since libraries and museums are considered by the Internal Revenue Service to be interested parties, we are unable to provide appraisals of monetary value of materials offered as gifts, brought in for identification, or submitted for any other purpose. We recommend hiring a professional appraiser to determine the value of your materials. Consult our Appraisal Policy for more details.
- When will my donated item go on display?
History Colorado can’t guarantee that any donated item will be included in an exhibition, since only a small percentage of our collection is on view at any given time. Collection materials that are not on display are kept in secure, climate-controlled storage areas to ensure preservation.
In addition to exhibitions, items in our collection are available for research through our research center and may also be eligible to be loaned out for exhibits at other institutions. To learn more about materials in our collection, consult our online collection catalogs at historycolorado.org/catalogs.
- I want to ensure my donation will stay at one of the museums.
Our collection storage areas, curatorial staff, and research center are based in Denver, but our collection covers the entire state of Colorado and we welcome donations with ties to all parts of the state. We consult with our museums outside Denver during the donation review process where applicable.
- I’m not sure that I want to let go of my item entirely. Does History Colorado accept long-term loans instead of donations? Will you return my donation to me or my family upon request?
We are not able to accept long-term loans. While History Colorado does accept loan items on a short-term basis in conjunction with exhibitions and other programs, the museum prefers to commit its resources to the storage and preservation of historical materials in the collection.
Donated items cannot be returned upon request. As part of the donation process, donors agree to transfer legal title or ownership, along with control of donated material, to History Colorado.
- Where can I find out if you already have items similar to mine?
Please check out our collections at historycolorado.org/catalogs.