Questions regarding Deeds of Gift

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    • #5079
      Joan Berman

      I work at a very small museum where we are just now trying to put in place the  documents, policies, etc. that will allow us to operate as a “proper” museum.

      When I arrived, there were no deeds of gift in place for donated items, and I am now trying to remedy that situation. This has raised a couple of questions:

      1) One donor to whom I sent a deed of gift form listing the items we have accessioned returned the form with additional items hand-written in. We do have possession of these items but have not accessioned them and frankly do not want them as part of our permanent collection. For political reasons, asking her to sign a fresh deed of gift and not make additions could be problematic. So my question is – does her handwritten note on the form obligate us to accept these items?

      2) Most of our donors are deceased, and the items from them were given during their lifetime rather than as part of an estate, so there is, again, no paper trail. I am finding no legal statutes as to how to deal with these items. How have other museums dealt with this situation?


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