Skip to content Skip to navigation



Identification of Objects

Q: I have an object that I would like to have identified. How do I get more information about it?

A: The Maxwell Museum does not appraise objects but in some cases may be able to identify an object.

Include photos of objects. For e-mail keep size of attached photos under 5 megabytes. For most objects it helps to have two or three pictures, showing different sides of the object. Include a quarter, ruler or similar object as a scale. Include a note on the history of the object (where and when it was found, who found it, and any other pertinent information). Include your contact information.

Curators may or may not be able to identify your object. If possible, a curator will identify your object after looking at the photos. If necessary, they may set up an appointment with you at the museum. Exceptions to this process may be made for people with disabilities or special needs. Don’t be disappointed if your “artifact” turns out to be a natural object—this happens all the time.

IMPORTANT: Collecting artifacts from public land is illegal. It is also illegal to collect from private land without the land owner’s permission. Curators routinely ask question about the legality of collections. If they learn that you have committed a crime (by digging on public land, for example), they are required to notify the appropriate agency. Information that you provide is not confidential.


Q: How do I find out what my object is worth?

A: The Museum does not provide financial appraisals of any objects. You have to take it to a licensed appraiser. The Maxwell maintains a list of local appraisers and you can contact administration 505 277-4405 for information or contact the American Society of Appraisers, 11107 Sunset Hills Rd., Ste. 310, Reston, VA 20190 (800) 272-8258,


Q: I want to donate an object or objects to the Museum's collections. How do I initiate this?

A: Contact  the appropriate curator (listed above) and collections committee for discussion. The committee will then advise the director.

Q: Can I take a tax write-off for a donation?

A: You should clarify your own personal tax opportunities with the IRS and obtain appraisal information by contacting a licensed appraiser. This will allow an accurate assessment of the tax allowance. The Museum will then sign the taxation forms during the donation process.

Obtaining Museum Images

Q: What are the policies for obtaining images of objects from the Museum's collections?

A: For permission to photograph or film objects in the Museum or Museum's collections, please contact individual curators. To use or duplicate existing photographs of the Museum's objects or to obtain reproductions of photographs in Photo Archives, please contact Diane Tyink.


Q: What do I do if I own an object that I want to preserve?

A: Specific curators may be able to give you basic preservation information that is associated with storage or display of objects in your home; or they will recommend a local qualified conservator in private practice who will address your needs. The Maxwell Museum does not provide conservation services.