Donating to Our Museum Collections

The Jewish Museum of Maryland collects items that document Jewish life in Maryland. The Museum collections include many kinds of resources, ranging from an entire period room to personal memorabilia. Collections are used to support research, exhibitions, publications, and educational programs.

Most of the JMM collections have been donated to the Museum by individuals and organizations. The Jewish Museum invites donations of historical and cultural materials of all kinds relating to the history of Maryland Jewry. Illustrative collecting categories include:

  • Letters, documents, and records of Maryland Jewish families, businesses, and organizations.
  • Clothing and accessories made, owned, or worn by Maryland Jews.
  • Paintings, sculpture, prints, rare books, and craft objects created or collected by Maryland Jews or that reflect Jewish themes
  • Ceremonial objects (Judaica) for use in Maryland Jewish homes or synagogues
  • Memorabilia, souvenirs, and ephemera relating to Maryland Jewish travel, vacations, entertainment, social life, summer camp and community organizations
  • Photographs, home movies and videos, sound recordings and other media that reflect Jewish life and culture in Maryland.

Collections donations are reviewed by a committee to determine if they are relevant to the Museum’s collecting goals. The Museum accepts into its collections only those items that relate to its mission, that complement or strengthen existing collections, and that can be given proper care by the Museum. Generally, the Museum accepts only those donated collections that are given without restriction. As an accredited museum, JMM meets the highest standards of professional care in its collections management.

How to Donate to JMM

Donating to the JMM’s Collections

For donors wishing to offer materials to the collection of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, this information describes how donations are evaluated for collections use.

JMM Collections Criteria

The Jewish Museum of Maryland is a leading repository of regional Jewish Americana. The JMM collections are used to interpret American Jewish history, culture, and traditions–exemplified in Maryland Jewish life. Accordingly, items are added to the JMM collections very deliberately, carefully, and selectively. Items under consideration for accession to the JMM collections are subject to review by the Museum’s collections staff and the Board Collections Committee. All prospective accessions are required to meet all of the following Basic Criteria.

Basic Criteria

  • Accessions must pertain to the JMM mission and relate to the history and culture of Maryland Jewry.
  • Accessions must come to the Museum with legal transfer-of-title and without restriction on ownership or use.
  • Accessions must be in such condition that the Museum can properly store, preserve, and conserve them in perpetuity.

In addition, collections offers are further evaluated for their relevancy to the collections, and their place in Maryland’s Jewish history. Only the most telling items are accepted into the Museum’s accessioned collection. Even significant objects, images, and documents may be returned to the donor because the Museum already owns comparable examples or because the items do not respond to all guidelines for accessions.


All donations must come to the Museum free of restrictions. Once a Deed of Gift is signed, all rights and interests are transferred to the JMM, and the gift cannot be returned to the donor. Please consult with all interested parties and family members before making a donation to the Museum.

Donations are used for research and preservation purposes. Other uses may include education, public programs, publication, and exhibition. Providing background information about the donation is helpful to JMM staff and researchers. Pertinent information includes biographical details about owners or users, including place of birth, education, occupation, synagogue or civic affiliations, a family tree and stories about the object and its use or history. Appropriate information is entered into our database.

The Museum makes no promises that donations will be displayed.

JMM does not have a core or permanent exhibition. JMM exhibitions are developed on themes that relate to our collections and mission, and change regularly. Items on exhibition may come from the JMM collections, individual lenders, or other institutions.

It is the donor’s responsibility to have donations appraised (if desired) prior to delivery to the JMM. Members of JMM staff are not permitted to provide an appraisal or estimated value for donations. A list of local, qualified appraisers is available upon request. Your signed Deed of Gift will serve as a receipt for tax purposes.

Items should be in stable condition and should not require conservation.

Processing a collection takes time.

JMM collections staff reviews all materials carefully, comparing them to items that are already in the collection. Once the collections staff reviews the materials, it comes before the Board Collections Committee and finally before the Board of Trustees. This process may take up to six months. Please be patient as you wait to hear the status of your donation.

We hope that all of this information about our collections and accession process is helpful for you. We want all of our donors and lenders to be aware of our processes, and why it takes months for the Museum to reach a final decision to accept or reject any proposed gift. We very much appreciate your patience, support and generous consideration.

For further information on donations, please contact:

Joanna Church, Director of Collections and Exhibitions


For information on how to make a monetary donation to the JMM, please visit the Annual Giving page.