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Are you considerating a donation to the Museum?

The United States Naval Academy Museum (USNAM) thanks you for your interest in donating to us! We would love to talk with you to find out more about your piece of history! To fulfill our mission, we accept a wide variety of materials and artifacts to use for exhibitions, research, and hands-on education. USNAM follows the ethical guidelines for acquiring artifacts established by the American Alliance of Museums.


How to Contact the Museum

Please email the Museum’s curators at In your email, please include a detailed description and photos. Please be thorough when describing the item(s), size, and historical provenance. If you are offering multiple items, please provide a list of the items or estimate of the quantity.  

If you are unable to send an email, call the main desk at 410-293-2108 and they will direct you to a curator. 

All donation offers must be written.


What We Collect

The Naval Academy Museum responsibly collects items related to the history of the Navy, the Naval Academy, and Naval Academy graduates. We are selective in what we accept into our collection and consider the following factors:

  • Relevance to our mission (e.g.: was the item owned by a graduate? Is it directly connected to the Academy? How does it support the education of midshipmen and the public in telling the history of the Navy? )
  • If the item is already represented in the Museum's collection
  • The uniqueness of the item(s)
  • Storage and display considerations and limitations
  • The item(s) condition and the resources required for care/ restoration
  • Staff resources

What We Do NOT Collect

The Museum does not generally collect items related to enlisted sailors, the Coast Guard, or the Merchant Marines, with few exceptions. These items are better served at other museums and institutions.  

The Museum does not accept gifts of real property or funds. All monetary donations should be directed to the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation.


Mailed or Dropped-off Donations

The Museum DOES NOT accept unsolicited items or donations. Please DO NOT drop off or mail in your item(s) without the prior written permission of a Museum staff member. The Museum cannot physically accept items into our possession until they have been legally approved as additions to the collection.     

If an unsolicited donation is mailed to or dropped off at the Museum, USNAM staff will, within reason, attempt to contact the sender and return it. If, after 30 days, the donor does not reclaim their items they become the unrestricted property of the Museum, who will govern final disposition of such items including disposal. 

We reserve the right not to accept unsolicited items. 


How Donation Offers are Reviewed 

USNAM reviews every complete donation offer to determine whether it supports our mission and meets our collection criteria. After the curators receive a complete offer (including descriptions, photographs, sizes, and history), they will conduct research, review the existing collection, and then propose the offer to the Acquisitions Committee. 

The Acquisitions Committee will carefully review the offer and make a final decision. The Committee may elect to take only some, not all, of an offered donation. 

The Curator will then contact the donor regarding the Committee’s decision and direct the donor for further action. 


If an Offer is Accepted

If an offer is accepted, the curators will contact the donor to provide a Museum Artifact Donation Form and coordinate delivery. 

The donation process can be lengthy and involves several different USNA departments. Once the paperwork is reviewed and approved by those departments the donor will receive two copies of the Deed of Gift to sign and return to the Museum. Both Deeds of Gift will be countersigned by the Museum director; one will be returned to the donor. The Deed of Gift is the legal transfer of ownership and the donation is not complete without it. 

Offers must be unconditional donated gifts without restrictions and free and clear of all encumbrances.

USNAM cannot promise that any donation will be placed on exhibition. We do promise to care for the items, preserve them for future generations, and make them available to researchers and midshipmen. 


If an Offer is Rejected

If an offer does not meet our criteria, it will be declined and other suitable institutions will be suggested. Should the Museum have physical custody of an offer when it is rejected, we will either return the items to the donor or dispose of them, with prior permission. We do not forward the items to other institutions.



USNAM only approves short-term loans to other museums or professional organizations for the specific purpose of exhibition for a predetermined length of time. 

It is against Museum policy to enter into long-term or third-party loans. Such loans are a significant burden on the Museum staff. They are also contrary to museum ethics and best practices. 

We generally do not consider unsolicited offers of temporary loans.


Appraisals and Tax Deductions


USNAM cannot provide appraisals under IRS guidelines due to the inherent conflict of interest. The Museum does not make arrangements for appraisals or pay for the appraisal of a potential donation. Museum staff will not offer advice or recommendations to any donor with regard to personal finance or tax matters.


One of the below organizations may be able to assist with finding an appraiser:


If a donor wishes to take a tax deduction for their donation, they must begin the process with their accountant. The accountant will inform the donor of the process and provide the Museum with a copy of the IRS Form 8283. The Museum will send the donor’s 8283 to the USNA Comptroller for signature. 

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