Artifact Donations

Important Note About Donations:

PLEASE contact Museum staff ahead of time before you deliver or send any items as donations to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum's collections. Items brought to the Museum without prior notice may not be accepted.

Contact the Registrar/Collections Manager with donation offers by email or at 920-684-0218 x111.

Donating to the Collections of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum is continually expanding its collections in order to better tell the stories of our shared maritime history in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region. The Museum maintains many types of collections, including artifacts, photographs, manuscripts and archival materials, blueprints, maps, films and videos, ships logs and other research materials. We rely on the generosity of donors to help fulfill our mission through collecting historically significant items.

The cost of acquiring, processing, preserving and providing access to collections is substantial. Therefore, all items offered for donation are reviewed by Museum staff, the Collections Committee and the Board of Trustees before being approved and accepted into the collection.

What does the Wisconsin Maritime Museum collect?

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum collects items directly related to:

  1. The maritime history of the Great Lakes
  2. The maritime history of Wisconsin, including Wisconsin-built submarines
  3. Submarine USS Cobia


The Wisconsin Maritime Museum does not collect items related to:

  1.  Ocean-going vessels (like USS Constitution or RMS Titanic)
  2. U.S. Navy vessels not built in Wisconsin or the Great Lakes
  3. Nuclear submarines


The Wisconsin Maritime Museum does not need any additional examples of the following items:

  1.  Operation Redfin Jim Beam decanters
  2. U.S. Navy uniforms (except those with a direct Manitowoc submarine connection)
  3. James Sessions submarine prints

How do I donate to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum collections?

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum carefully considers every item offered for donation to the collections. In order to do that, we need your help in gathering as much information as possible about the items you wish to donate.

The first step is to contact the museum about your donation. You will be asked to complete a donation form and provide photographs of the item(s) you wish to donate. The Museum staff will review the information you provide and contact you regarding your offer of a donation.

Next, potential donations are reviewed by the Collections Committee, which meets 4-6 times per year. Once your donation has been reviewed by the Collections Committee and the Board of Trustees, the Museum will inform you about the status of your donation and mail you a thank you letter and an official Deed of Gift form if your items are accepted.

You must contact the Museum staff ahead of time before you deliver or send any items to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. Items brought to the Museum without prior notice may not be accepted.

What are the criteria for accepting items into the Wisconsin Maritime Museum collections?

  1. The items must be relevant to and consistent with the mission of the Museum.
  2. The Museum must be able to provide for the storage, protection and preservation of the items, in keeping with professionally accepted standards.
  3. Title to all items must be obtained free and clear, and without restrictions or limitations as to use or future dispositions. All donations are considered outright, irrevocable and unconditional gifts to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and are to be used at the discretion of the Museum. If, however, items are offered with restrictions or limitations, the condition will be stated clearly in the instrument of conveyance or Deed of Gift. Any conditions or limitations must be approved by the Collections Committee and the Board of Trustees.
  4. The legal transfer of title, including adequate description of the items, will accompany all gifts and will be filed at the Museum. This document must be signed by both a Museum representative and the legal agent of the donor.
  5. The items being offered must not represent an unnecessary duplication of objects of equal or superior quality already present in the Museum’s collections.

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum has a policy, approved by the Board of Trustees, of changing materials on exhibit in order to preserve collections from ultraviolet light, dust and natural deterioration. Therefore, for the reasons stated above, no donation can be accepted for permanent exhibition.

Is my donation tax-deductible? How much is it worth?

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.

Museum representatives are prohibited from providing appraisals or any information on the monetary value of items donated to the collections. For help finding a professional appraiser, please see:

Appraisers Association of America
386 Park Avenue South Suite 2000
New York, NY 10016

American Society of Appraisers
555 Herndon Parkway Suite 125
Herndon, VA 20170

National Association of Professional Appraisers
234 Lewis Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

Still have questions about donating to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum collections?

Please contact the Registrar/Collections Manager Tiffany Charles by email or by phone at (920) 684-0218 x111. Again, please contact the Museum to discuss any artifact donations before bringing them to the museum.