Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Museum and research center closed for renovations. For more info, call (406) 444-2694.

Potential Acquisitions


If you are interested in helping the dedicated staff of your Montana Historical Society preserve our history, please consider donating your historical artifacts, records, and photographs that tell our stories. Please review these frequently asked questions and fill out the potential donation form.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Montana Historical Society maintains many collections. New items are acquired in several ways, including selected donations from the public.

Before an item is acquired for the MTHS collections, it undergoes a rigorous review process. Not all items are accepted for various reasons. Here is a partial list of some of the types of materials we collect:

  • Art
  • Artifacts and objects
  • Books
  • Film, video, and sound recordings
  • Government records
  • Manuscripts
  • Maps
  • Music
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs

Because the holdings of the Montana Historical Society are extensive, and because acquisitions represent a long-term commitment to preservation that we take very seriously, several factors must be considered before new items can be added to the collection. Therefore, an Acquisitions Committee reviews all offered donations using the following criteria.

  • Relevance – Do the offered items relate in some significant way to Montana’s history or cultural heritage?
  • Uniqueness – Do the items fill a void in the MTHS collections or do they duplicate existing holdings?
  • Condition – Would the condition of the items prohibit their long-term preservation given the resources available for preserving them?
  • Our Responsibility – Does the MTHS have the necessary resources to properly house, care for, and exhibit these offered materials?
  • Suitability – Is the Montana Historical Society the best place for these items or would history be better served by placing them in another repository?

First, let us know what it is you’d like to donate. The best way to do this is by filling out the Potential Acquisition Questionnaire. The more information you provide about your item(s), the easier it will be for us to determine if and how your donation fits in the larger collection.

Please do not send or bring items to MTHS. Unfortunately, we do not have staff available to handle unsolicited donations.

Unsolicited donations will be returned to the donor or disposed of if the donor cannot be located.

Yes, but only in exceptional cases, as the MTHS has limited funds for purchases. On these occasions, in keeping with ethical practices we cannot suggest or set the purchase price but can only react to prices set by the seller.

Because of its standing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the MTHS cannot appraise or assign a monetary value to items. Those looking for appraisal services may wish to consult their local appraiser  or contact one of the following organizations for a referral:

Collections items are exhibited following standard museum and archival practices; however, only a small percentage of MTHS’s permanent collections are on exhibit at any one time. We have limited gallery space in which objects are chosen based on their ability to further current interpretation plans, and long-term display can have negative effects on an object’s condition. Items in MTHS’s collections that are not on exhibit are kept in secure, climate-controlled holding areas for optimal preservation.

Yes. To view art or artifacts contact To view books, manuscripts, government records, maps, oral histories, and photographs contact

Contributions to the Montana Historical Society are tax deductible. However, it is the donor’s responsibility to determine value or secure any needed appraisal. As the receiving institution we cannot perform, or be part to, appraisals because doing so would constitute a conflict of interest. Please see list of appraisers above.

All donations represent permanent gifts. Donors legally relinquish all rights to the items and the materials become the sole property of the Montana Historical Society.

Due to space constraints, insurance costs, and legal liability, we cannot accept long-term or indefinite loans. We occasionally request short-term loans for limited exhibition purposes.