Collections FAQ

Commonly asked questions about the EHF collections:

  • I have something I want to donate to the EHF’s collections – can I just drop it off?
    • Anything that enters the EHF’s collections or archives must go through an accession process and be approved by our Archives and Collection Committee.  If you have something you think would fit in our collections, please click here to learn about the accession process.
    • Please note, if you do drop something off, we may discard it.
    • If you want to donate an artifact to the EHF, please click here to contact EHF staff.  Photographs of potential donations are always appreciated.
  • I don’t understand why these accession forms and approvals are necessary. Isn’t it easier for me just to drop things off with someone in the office?
    • While the forms and approval process do take some time, they are vital for the proper preservation of the artifacts. If an artifact is just dropped off, we won’t know its history (and if you just tell a staff member, they won’t remember!) and this information is important for our records.
    • One document needed is the deed of gift, which transfers ownership to the EHF. This is important for insurance reasons, and should the donation ever be challenged in the future.
  • Why don’t you accept everything offered?
    • There are a number of reasons that we can’t accept every wonderful artifact or document or picture offered.
      1. We may already have one example, or many, of the artifact. Remember, the EHF has been actively collecting for over 65 years.
      2. If an artifact cannot be easily displayed and stored in our museums and storage areas, we cannot, in good conscious, accept an artifact.
      3. We collect artifacts and archives that relate directly to the village of Ephraim’s history. If your artifact does not relate to Ephraim, we may not accept it.
  • I have an artifact for sale. Does the EHF want to buy it?
    • The EHF does not have a budget to purchase artifacts.
  • Do you ever cull your collections? If so, what do you do with the artifacts removed from the collections?
    • This is a process known as deaccessioning and like accessioning, it takes some time with forms and Committee approval. The main difference is that any deaccession from the EHF collection must also be approved by the EHF Board of Directors.
    • An artifact may be deaccessioned for a number of reasons:
    • Any artifact deaccessioned may be discarded if it is too damaged for use in display, research, or Teaching Collection. Any artifact that is still ok, but has been deaccessioned can be sold, with proceeds benefiting the care of the EHF collections.  The sale must be open to the public (online sales through eBay or Craigslist are some examples of how we could do a public sale).
  • What is the Teaching Collection?
    • These are artifacts that may be duplicates or online purchases
  • My artifact wasn’t accepted. Does that mean it is not museum quality or important?
    • Absolutely not. This just means that the EHF was not the right museum for your artifact.  There are a large number of historical museums in Door County that might be a better fit for your artifact.
  • I have something that I want the EHF to display, but I don’t want to give it to you. Can I loan it to you?
    • The EHF does accept incoming loans, but on a case by case basis. Loans are subject to Committee approval.  Contact the EHF regarding loans.
    • Please note that the EHF will only accept loans on artifacts relevant to current exhibits or research.
  • Can I borrow something from the EHF collection?
    • We loan, almost exclusively, to organizations, not to individuals.
    • We do approve outgoing loans, but again on a case by case basis. Loans are subject to Committee approval and borrower must take full responsibility of the artifacts and return them to the EHF in the condition they were loaned.  Any damage or loss is the responsibility of the borrower.
  • I have heard you have a huge garment collection. Can we borrow these for a play or an event?
  • If I can’t borrow from the garment collection, do you have any reproductions I could?
    • We do have a small collection of children’s play costumes and some adult costumes as well. We will loan these out on a case by case basis, depending on the needs of the EHF.
  • A family member donated something years ago and I would like it back. Can you return it to me?
    • Once and artifact is donated it belongs to the EHF and we cannot return the item.
  • I donated an artifact several years ago and it is not on display – why?
    • As is true in all museums, the vast majority of a museum’s collections are not visible. It is estimated that, on average, when you go to a museum you see less than 10% of that museum’s collection at any given time.
    • Artifacts put on display are chosen for specific purposes:
      • The artifact helps communicate a specific story to the viewer and that story is relevant to the exhibit.
      • Any time an artifact is on display, it is a calculated risk on our part. The artifact is subjected to light, dust, handling, etc. and therefore, we try to rotate what items are on display to give other artifacts “a rest”.
      • Artifacts may need some cleaning or conservation and so they are removed from display and replaced with something else.
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