Frequently Asked Questions

I will make a gift only if I can set certain conditions for my object. Are you still interested?

Our practice and policy is to not accept gifts that come with strings attached. Donation conditions are often not in line with modern museum practices, may not reflect our constituencies’ expectations and needs, or are at odds with university guidelines. Many museums now find themselves devoting resources trying to adhere to or resolve legacy issues, and we certainly do not wish to create similar problems for our successors.

Do you want the intellectual property rights, too?

The MGMH asks that all intellectual property rights that exist in the object be donated to the museum along with title to the object. This enables us to sell images, publish images on the web and in hard copy, and license reproduction for commercial purposes. While the MGMH would not automatically decline an object without simultaneous transfer of full intellectual property rights, withholding of intellectual property rights by the potential donor would weigh heavily against our acceptance.

How is ownership transferred?

The legal mechanism for acquiring an object differs from case to case, depending on how the object is offered.

With a gift, as soon as the museum has decided to accept the donor’s offer, the donor will be provided with a Deed of Gift for signature. A signed copy of the deed is to be returned to us.
Arrangements will also be made for the object to arrive at the MGMH, if this has not occurred previously. When the MGMH receives the completed Deed of Gift and the object is in our physical custody, the gift is completed.

How long before I learn whether the museum wants to acquire my object?

Generally, the most time-consuming portion of the acquisition process is gathering information from the donor.
We may have to contact you several times before we have enough information for your object to be considered by the Collections Review Committee. Sometimes additional research into legal issues or consultation with outside curatorial experts is necessary as well. Once we have all of this information, your offer will be considered at a monthly meeting of our Collections Review Committee. After the committee’s recommendation has been reviewed by the director, we...

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How do I offer an object to the MGMH?

Please send a letter or e-mail telling us about your object and whether you are offering it as a gift or as a bequest. It will help us greatly if you can enclose photographs or digital images. Please provide a description, including materials, date of manufacture and/or collection, and dimensions; verifiable record of authenticity and provenance (history of ownership); and information about any prior treatments with preservative chemicals. This information can be sent to:

The Mineralogical & Geological Museum, Harvard University
24 Oxford Street
 Cambridge, MA 02138

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