How often we hear this said of historical, interesting or otherwise unusually nice things – in movies and in real life. But is this anything more than a normal romantic reaction when confronted by something outside the viewer’s ordinary sphere of existence and outside institutional walls? Not really.
More often than not an example of the item, or one very much like it, can already be found in a museum – usually somewhere nearby. I recently heard a story by a museum archivist friend of mine that illustrates the point perfectly.
One day, as happens practically every other day, he received an email from a potential donor. This person had found and purchased an item at a flea market they were just sure belonged in the museum. My friend asked for a quick photo and realized they already had too many examples of this particular type of object in the larger museum collection and declined the donation.
Well, the potential donor was not happy. The fact was, they had not spent very much money – remembering too a flea market is essentially a retail market – to obtain the item, so that wasn’t really the issue. Instead, what was terribly irritating to them was having their unsolicited noble gesture spurned.
The fact is if everything I’ve heard people say ‘belonged in a museum’ were actually in a museum, there wouldn’t be enough real estate to support the number of institutions needed, much less enough money to cover the administrative costs of conservation and display! Museums are not black holes for all things historical.
Appraiser to the Rescue!
This is another area where hiring a qualified professional appraiser can provide invaluable help and perspective that can help you avoid confusion or even disappointment. We are familiar with the average donation process and can tell you what you might expect – and certainly what you’ll need to have proper formal documentation of your donation for the IRS.
Then we can deliver a report that will serve your needs – to the letter!
It makes double good sense to hire an appraiser if you are not at all sure if your item would even be desirable to an institution. While our ultimate purpose is to document non-cash charitable contributions (aka donations), an experienced appraiser will likely have some insight into how receptive a museum or similar institution might be to a potential donation of your item.
There may even be other avenues for you to explore with the item, and the information gathered in your appraisal document or consultation will ensure you move into the next phase of your process with complete confidence.
Peace of mind is why we buy insurance, and the same thing can be said for appraisals! Drop me a line and let me know how I can help!