Henry Sugimoto Collection

Artifact Donation

Contributing to JANM’s Permanent Collection

The over 150,000 objects that comprise the JANM permanent collection chronicle the Japanese American experience in its entirety from early immigration to the present. Artifacts related to early immigration to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, early life in Japanese American communities, and the World War II incarceration experience and military service are strengths of the collection.

How Do I Donate?

How do I donate an artifact to JANM?

If you are interested in donating artwork, objects, images or historical documents related to the Japanese American experience, we would like to hear from you.

To start the donation process, please tell us about your artifacts by filling out an Offer of Artifacts form. The more information we have on the history and provenance of the artifacts, the easier it is for the Collections staff to justify how they will complement the permanent collection. Additionally, photographs are immensely helpful to museum staff to get a sense of the objects.


If you have questions about completing the form, please contact JANM’s Collections Management and Access (CMA) staff at collections@janm.org.

How Do I Donate?

Once you submit the form, your proposed donation will be assigned to a CMA staff member who will follow up with next steps. The proposed donation will then be reviewed by the JANM Collections Task Force as well as the Board of Trustees, which meet quarterly.

Following formal acceptance by JANM, you will be issued a deed of gift to document the transfer of ownership of the artwork, objects, images, or documents to the museum. At that time, the CMA staff will contact you to make arrangements for delivery of the accepted artifact(s).

JANM is mindful of its responsibility to preserve the history of the Japanese American community in perpetuity. If you are interested in contributing a monetary donation to help ensure the long-term storage and preservation of the collection, please contact JANM’s Development department.

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Images: Paul Bannai’s scrapbook. Gift of Paul T. Bannai (2019.18.1); Flower-shaped rice cracker cutter from Umeya Rice Cracker Company. Gift of Hamano Family (2018.2.5)


I have cultural or historical objects from Japan. Do these fit within JANM’s collecting parameters?

If there is no Japanese American connection, JANM is not the appropriate repository. There are other museums, locally and nationally, that collect Japanese historical and cultural objects.

Can I mail or drop off a donation?

The museum does not accept artifact donations through the mail or in person unless previous arrangements have been made with our CMA staff. All unsolicited artifact donations sent via mail will be returned to sender.

To begin the donation process, please download the Offer of Artifacts form. Once your donation has been approved and formally accepted by JANM’s Collections Task Force and Board of Trustees, collections staff will contact you to make arrangements for the delivery of your donation.

Download Form

What happens to the artifacts once they arrive at JANM?

Collections Management & Access staff will note the condition of the materials upon arrival before rehousing them in archival materials. The artifacts will receive a catalog number, which is how the artifacts will be identified within the collection. CMA staff will proceed with cataloging the materials, which includes capturing information such as: a physical description, material type, measurements, provenance, historical significance, storage location, and a reference image. This information is entered into the collections management database, which allows it to be more easily searchable.

Will JANM appraise my donation for its monetary value?

The museum does not provide appraisals of the monetary value of offered donations because the Internal Revenue Service regards museums and libraries as interested parties. Professional appraisers, however, will perform this service for a fee.

To find a licensed appraiser in your area, contact one of the following organizations for a referral: the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America.

Can I take a tax deduction for my donation?

Since the museum is recognized as a qualified charitable organization, a donation to the museum’s collection is generally tax deductible. To ensure that your donation is tax deductible and you receive the maximum tax benefit, we recommend that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, and/or the Internal Revenue Service.

To qualify for a possible tax deduction, donors are responsible for obtaining an appraisal before the objects are delivered to JANM.

Will JANM exhibit the materials in my donation?

The museum cannot guarantee that any artwork, objects, images, or documents donated to the museum will be exhibited. Like other museums, only a small fraction of the collection is on view at any given time. However, there are other ways that your donation is of immense value to JANM.

Artworks, objects, images, or documents from the collection are occasionally loaned to other institutions for temporary exhibitions or made available for viewing on our collections online. Researchers also have access to the items in the collection.

If I donate materials to JANM, will they be returned to me at my request?

Once JANM accepts your donation for the collection, you will be asked to sign a deed of gift, which legally transfers ownership of the artwork, object, or materials to the museum. With this legal agreement in place, the museum cannot return accessioned collection artworks, objects, images, or documents to the donor.

Can donated materials be removed from the JANM collection?

The museum may, with approval from the Board of Trustees, remove artworks, objects, images, or documents from the collection through a process called deaccessioning, according to strict standards as prescribed by the American Alliance of Museums. Materials are recommended for deaccession if they no longer fit the museum’s collecting parameters or if the physical condition has deteriorated considerably.

Can I view the artifacts my family donated to JANM’s collection?

Yes, you are welcome to schedule an appointment during regular museum hours to view your family’s collection. Contact CMA staff at collections@janm.org for an appointment.

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Other questions? Email the museum’s Collections Management and Access staff at collections@janm.org.


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