The Mower County Historical Society’s permanent collection contains more than 35,000 items, including objects, photographs, archival materials, and books. The historical society began collecting items for its collection after its founding in 1947. We continue to add items to our collection and provide the best possible care for them. Today, collections care is a crucial part of our mission as we work to uphold museum standards and best practices. We hold the collection in public trust, and it is our duty to care for it in perpetuity. This means that the collection belongs to YOU, and we care for it as part of our mission to “collect” and “preserve” Mower County history.
How Do I Donate the the Collection?
We gratefully consider all kinds of objects, photographs, or archival documents that are related to Mower County. An item does not need to have monetary value in order to be considered for the collection. Sometimes everyday objects like work clothes, well-used tools, personal journals, or school projects make the best additions to our collection. The objects in our collection help us tell and share the story of Mower County and its people. New additions to the collection should help tell a part of the Mower County story.
Collection donations can be brought to the historical society during our regular business hours (Tuesday-Friday, 10am-4pm). Please contact MCHS staff before bringing an item to MCHS. You will be asked to fill out and sign a temporary custody form at that time.
MCHS reserves the right to dispose of any unsolicited items dropped off at the historical society.
The Collections and Exhibits Committee evaluates all object donations at bimonthly meetings. Committee members are MCHS Staff, board members, and community members. The committee ensures that new additions to the collection conform to the guidelines in the Collections Policy. Donations of photographs or archival materials do not have to go through the committee and can be evaluated directly by MCHS staff.
After approval by the Collections and Exhibits Committee, you will receive a Deed of Gift form in the mail. Once signed, the Deed of Gift transfers ownership of the donated items to MCHS. Collections donations become the permanent property of MCHS and cannot be returned to donors or their family once the accession process (the formal process to accept and record an item in a museum’s collection) is completed.
Collections and Exhibits Committee Criteria
The Mower County Historical Society accepts all different types of objects. However, our resources to accept, process, and preserve artifacts are limited – we cannot save everything. We only have so much time, space, and money to dedicate to the 35,000 items in our collection. For this reason, the Collection Policy lays out criteria that must be considered for any item offered to MCHS.
Relation to Mower County History – The objects must have a meaningful connection to Mower County. Without a connection to Mower County, we cannot accept it.
Provenance or Personal Story – An object in our collection should help tell a story. Who created or purchased it? Who wore it? What were they doing? How did you (the donor) acquire it? If we cannot answer some of these questions, it probably can’t help us tell the story of Mower County.
Condition – If an item is truly falling apart and too fragile to be handled, or has a mold or pest concern, we cannot accept it.
Size or Volume – Large objects (like furniture or farm equipment or many boxes of records/archival materials) require a great deal of space to properly store. We take the availability of our (limited) storage space into account when evaluating objects. Also, it is no longer possibly to display every item in the collection all the time. It is also very hard on objects to be on display and they deteriorate faster when they are exposed to light, dirt, and pests. We provide better collections care by rotating the objects on display. At this time, we accept very few large objects into the collection.
Duplication – To make the best use of our resources, we generally do not to accept items for donation that are already well represented in the collection.
The following is a list of items that are well represented in the collection:
- WWI and WWII military uniforms
- Wedding Dresses from 1920s-1940s
- Sewing machines
- Christening gowns from the late 1800s and early 1900s
- Women’s hats up to the 1960s
- Organs and pianos
- Photos without identification
If you feel your item has a strong story and connection to Mower County history, please contact MCHS staff.
MCHS cannot legally appraise donated items. If you wish to make a tax deduction based on your donation, check with an accountant and/or appraiser before bringing it to MCHS.
Collections donation resources: MCHS Collections Policy and MCHS Deed of Gift Form.
View and Search the Collection
As part of the accession process and in our work to uphold museum standards and best practices, every item in the collection is assigned a unique identification number and photographed. The information about the object and its photograph(s) are uploaded into our collections database. Some of that database is available for the public to see and search (along with the collections from other organizations using the same collections management software) on a web site: www.mncollections.org.
With a few exceptions, most items in our collection are available to see in person. Please contact MCHS staff prior to visiting, and they can have the item(s) available.
Questions about object donations (i.e. clothing, farm equipment, military items, etc.) or exhibits? Jaimie Timm is the MCHS Curator.
Questions about photograph and archival donations or about doing research at MCHS? Sue Doocy is the MCHS Research and Archives Manager. You can also find more information about the Research Library and fees here (link to the “research library” tab of the website)
Both are available by phone 507-437-6082 or by email.