COVID-19 Update: The Los Altos History Museum’s Collections Office and Reference Library are currently closed to the public in response to COVID19 safety guidelines. We thank you for your patience as our responses to research and artifact donations may be delayed at this time. For more information to general collections inquiries or image/film use/reproduction, please contact us at research@losaltoshistory.org.

We thank you for your interest in donating to The Los Altos History Museum Collection!

The Museum recognizes that in order to tell the Los Altos story, we must build an appropriate collection that represents our history and community. Donating to the collection is an important act that transforms personal or family heirlooms and memorabilia by integrating them into the collective memory and shared narrative of all residents, past and future.

Our responsibility is to curate a collection that accurately reflects the range of experiences so that the Collection as a whole presents a reliable record. Do you have an interesting artifact to donate to the Collection? If so, please submit your inquiry today at the button below. We look forward to reviewing your artifact with you!

Start the Process
Anna Knapp Fitz art is accessioned.

Anna Knapp Fitz art is accessioned.

The Museum’s Collections Archives.

The Museum’s Collections Archives.

What do we collect?

All artifact donations must further the Museum’s mission statement. The artifact must showcase authenticity, provenance and relevance to the Permanent and/or Education Collections, including larger themes and topics of the “Southern Peninsula” story.

Acquisition into the Collection will need to meet at least one of the initial criteria as stated below to be considered for accession to either the Permanent or the Education Collections. The following describes the types of materials we seek on a rolling basis:

  • The donation showcases authenticity, quality, related-provenance, style/usefulness to the Collection, including larger themes and topics of the Southern Peninsula story (e.g., agriculture, art history, cultural history, racial and ethnic identities, community activities, prominent families, schools and institutions, businesses, religion, government.)
  • The donation can be used for exhibition purposes or serve as a replica/interactive prop for educational purposes.
  • The donation does not duplicate other items currently in the collection and is likely not documented or preserved in other archives, libraries, or institutions.

All of the following criteria must be met in order to accession an acquisition to the Permanent Collection:

  • The donation is relevant to the Collections and Museum’s mission as stated in the Policy.
  • The donation fills a specific need within the Permanent Collection consistent with the Museum’s mission. This includes specific needs for the oral history collection, special collections or on-going/current collecting initiatives.
  • The donation is accompanied by personal, family, or institutional anecdotes, narratives, and information that elucidates aspects of life and events in the Southern Peninsula area.
  • The donation has historical, educational or aesthetic merit (for display) and was created or utilized within the geographic area, created by a local artist or owned by an individual or family who has made, or is currently making, significant contributions to the social, economic, cultural, political or artistic landscape of the Southern Peninsula.

What is the donation process?

In order to process an artifact donation, you must submit an inquiry online to the Collections Committee at research@losaltoshistory.org.

Please allow up to two weeks for a member of the Collections Committee to review your inquiry. Upon review of your submission, a member of the Collections Committee or Collections staff will reach out to make an appointment with you.

We seek artifact donations on a rolling basis to our Permanent Collection and donations by need-basis or project-basis for various Special Collecting Initiatives. All donation submissions are carefully considered and thoughtfully reviewed on a monthly basis by the Collections Committee, Collections Chair and Collections Strategist. The Museum must be able to appropriately care for the artifacts it accepts, providing proper storage and preservation care.

Some Important Things to Note

  • We kindly request that you do not leave objects, artifacts or materials on the Museum’s property unattended. Any artifacts left unattended without a proper appointment or inquiry will be discarded. Our docents are not authorized to accept any donations and we reserve the right to decline objects if they are inconsistent with our collecting goals, in poor condition, or if they contain hazardous materials.
  • We do not accept long-term loans unless it serves a specific purpose for an exhibition with prior agreement with the collections strategist and exhibitions curator.
  • We cannot guarantee that your donated artifact will be displayed. Only a small portion of our collection is exhibited at any given time.
  • We do not make, arrange or pay for appraisals of artifacts.

To view the donations process click here.

Special Collecting Initiatives

Permanent Exhibition (opening 2022)

The Museum has embarked on a seminal project to modernize and upgrade its core exhibition. The reimagined exhibition will offer visitors an interactive multimedia experience of the people, events, and places that have shaped our local history. We are seeking artistic and cultural artifacts, journals, photographs, maps, objects, oral memoirs, letters, and documents related to the story of the Los Altos area, its people, community and culture.

Documenting COVID-19 in Santa Clara

The Museum is calling for journals, essays, articles, artworks, poems, artifacts, posters, flyers, written works, creative works, documents or materials in efforts to document the social, cultural, historical and everyday life of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Submit Your Story

Social Justice Collection

In an effort to mindfully document diverse narratives, stories and experiences within our collections, we are proud to present the Social Justice Collection. This collection explores the history of local civil rights movements, immigration, race and multicultural identities of the Southern Peninsula. Through your artifact contributions, we hope to build a collection that represents our growing community and expands our awareness of diverse cultures and languages that make up Santa Clara County.