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Donate an Item

I have something you might be interested in, does the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force accept donations?

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force always encourages the public to help broaden and enrich the history of the United States Air Force through donated items. The generosity of the public provides many of the items used by the museum to create, sustain and continually enhance its many exhibits and study collection. We review every donation offer individually to see if it meets our collection needs and fits our mission to tell the story of the Air Force.

What kind of items does the museum look for?

We are always on the lookout for new and exciting items related to the rich history of the U.S. Air Force.  Common objects of interest include uniform items, flying clothing, equipment, memorabilia, and more. We collect objects broadly related to the history of the USAF, 1947-Present, and U.S. Army Aviation, 1860-1946.The Museum is also interested in acquiring materials such as photographs and documents related to USAF and early Army aviation history.  We incorporate these items into our exhibits and educational programs, and make them available to interested scholars and researchers.

Please see our regularly updated donation wish list for specific items we are currently seeking. 

How can I contact you about items I wish to donate?

If you have an item(s) you would like to donate to the museum, please email or send a letter to:

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Collection Management Division
Attn: Donation Offers
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433

Please provide any biographical/background information that you have about the item(s) you wish to donate.

Can’t I just mail or drop off a donation to the museum?

No, the museum does not accept unsolicited donations. Due to the volume of offers that occur each day, we cannot accept unsolicited material dropped off at the museum or unsolicited material sent through the mail.  Once a donation offer has been accepted by the Collections Committee, you will be given instructions on how to mail/ship the donation to us. Donations can only be dropped off at the museum front desk after written coordination/confirmation with a museum curator or registrar.

Who reviews donation offers?

All donations are reviewed by the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Collections Committee prior to acceptance. Accepted donations are retained either for exhibit at the museum, loan to certified organizations, or preservation in our research/study collection. The Collections Committee consists of the senior curator along with members representing multiple museum divisions. If the committee approves the donation offer, you will be contacted and provided with further instructions.

If at some point during the donation process it is determined that the item(s) does not meet the required criteria for the collection, the item(s) may be declined. Our Collections Policy does not allow for the museum to dispose of or forward material to other organizations.

Why is the museum so selective in what it accepts?

While we wish we could accept any and all offers, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has neither the storage capability nor the staff resources to accept everything.  Our collecting is very focused on filling gaps in our collection. 

What is the process once I donate something to NMUSAF?

Once a donation is approved by the Collections Committee and received by either the Collection Management or Research Division, you will be notified. The accessioning process, in which the item(s) are catalogued into the collection, will then begin. Once this is completed, usually in about 45 days, you will receive an acknowledgement letter.

Does the museum accept long term loans?

It is against policy to accept personal loans of historical property. Such loans impose a significant administrative burden on the museum as well as other responsibilities and are contrary to best practices as advocated by the American Alliance of Museums. Items offered to the museum are accepted only when donated unconditionally as gifts to the U.S. Air Force without restrictions, free and clear of all encumbrances.

Does the museum accept artwork?

Those considering a donation of art (e.g., paintings, sculptures, and similar large works meant for display) should first contact the United States Air Force Art Collection.  The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force does not normally collect these objects.

Will my items be exhibited?

While the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force cannot guarantee that any item(s) will be placed on exhibit, we can promise that donated items will be preserved and cared for as a valued part of the Air Force's national historical collection for future generations.  Like most other museums, only a small percentage of our collection (about 8%) is on exhibit. The rest is in secure storage and is used for research, future exhibit needs, and as a historical study collection.

Can the museum do an appraisal of my donation?

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is prohibited from providing monetary appraisals to individuals. However, professional appraisers will perform this service for a fee. You can contact one of these organizations to find appraisers in your area:

American Society of Appraisers
International Society of Appraisers
Appraisers Association of America

Thank you for your generosity and support of the National Museum of the United States Air Force.