What We Collect

Collections Volunteer, Natalie, processing letters from the 1920s

Our collection of artifacts, photos, and archives is comprised of generous donations from the community. We frequently receive calls and emails from people about donating items to the collection. From finds in attics, old houses, and thrift stores, people want to find the right place for items they have found or collected. While our small space cannot accommodate every donation, if it fits specific criteria we bring it to our collections committee to determine suitability for our collection. If not, we help the donor find a museum or organization where it might be a better fit. 

Here are some of the main criteria we consider before taking an item into our collection:

Is it related to our service area?

Our collection reflects the history of Southwest Seattle on the Duwamish Peninsula, which includes West Seattle, South Park, and White Center. If you have an item that is tied to a different location, we can usually suggest another museum that might be interested in your donation.

Is it related to a significant event, place, organization, or person?

An object only becomes an artifact when it has meaningful information attached to it. If the item has a story or information relating to people and places in our service area, it may be a good candidate for our collection.

Do we have clear documentation on where it came from?

Taking an item into the collection is a legal transaction. To accept an item, we need to know where it came from and who the legal owner is.

Is it in good condition (as opposed to needing extensive conservation work)?

If an item is extremely fragile or needs special conservation work, we have to carefully consider whether or not we can in good faith take ownership of the item. If it is in poor condition, but of very high historic value, we might consider pursuing a grant or special funding to preserve the item.

Do we have space for it in our collection?

Our collection contains over 10,000 items and we have very limited space to add new items. This means that we have to be very discerning about what new things we add to the collection.

Does it need special storage considerations, and do we have the capacity to accommodate those needs?

We hold our collection in public trust. This means that we have to seriously consider if we can properly store and care for an item before we accept it. All items require archival storage of some kind, but that can range from an acid-free folder to expensive hand-made mounts.

Is it free from donor-imposed restrictions?

We cannot make promises or guarantees about the use of an item after donation. Although we may hope to use it in an exhibit or publication, it is against best practices and museum policy to make promises beyond the care of the item in our collection.

Is it better placed at another institution?

Depending on the kind of artifact, it might be better suited to a different organization that specializes in the topic it is related to or has better capacity to store a particular kind of object. For instance, we might refer you to the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society for certain kinds of maritime artifacts that would be a better fit for their collection.

Is it hazardous to human health?

Items infected with mold, containing biohazardous materials, or other health risks can not be accepted into the collection. 

Do we already have this, or something very similar, in the collection?

An item might fit all of the first 9 criteria, but we may already have one (or several!) representations in the collection. If this is the case, we will try to help you find another museum for your donation. 

As you can see, there is a lot we have to consider before taking a new item into the collection! We hold items in public trust for perpetuity, so we have to take new additions very seriously, considering legal, ethical, and pragmatic factors. A rigorous process to screen items allows us to achieve our goal of preserving and making accessible artifacts that are historically significant to the Duwamish Peninsula. 

Go Deeper:

*You can see regular highlights of some of the items in our collection at https://www.facebook.com/LogHouseMuseum/ 

*Interested in donating an item? Email collections@loghousemuseum.org

*Have a topic you are interested in researching? Make an appointment to search our collection at collections@loghousemuseum.org

*Want to get involved? Check out https://www.loghousemuseum.org/get-involved/

*Want to help support the preservation and accessibility of our collection? You can donate at https://www.loghousemuseum.org/get-involved/donate/

The Log House Museum is open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Noon to 4pm.