Collections Management Policy

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What Kinds of Items Will the Museum Accept?

If you would like to offer an item to the Louisville Historical Museum, please first contact the Museum staff to find out whether it will be possible for the Museum to accept the item:

The Museum collections consist of the permanent collection, the education collection, and the reference collection. These collections and procedures relating to the collections, and the Museum’s full scope statement, are further described in the following policy:

The strengths of the collections are in the:

  • Artifacts, maps, and records relating to coal mining in the area
  • Historic photos of downtown Louisville
  • Items relating to Louisville families and houses
  • Items relating to immigrants who came to the Louisville area; and business items from the Louisville area

The Museum’s holdings include not only artifacts that are exhibited and interpreted for visitors, but also archival materials that researchers use. The Museum is also the repository for historical items from the administration of the town.

What Happens to Donated Items 

All items received by the Museum become property of the City of Louisville. As the steward of valuable collections, the Museum and the City of Louisville maintain and interpret the Museum collections and fulfill the Museum’s mission.

General Guidelines for Donated Items

Items accepted for the collections generally need to have an association with the specific history of the Louisville area. Artifacts that do not have a direct association with the Louisville area, such as items that are representative of an activity practiced in the Louisville area, may still be accepted into the collections if they are potentially useful in fulfilling the mission of the Museum. The Museum staff and Louisville Historical Commission work together to decide what is possible to be accepted into the permanent collection. The availability of adequate storage space and whether the proffered items fit within the scope and mission of the Museum are major considerations in deciding whether items can be accepted.

Other Items of Potential Interest

The Museum also collects obituaries of Louisville residents from all time periods. These aid members of the public conducting family history research and help the Museum staff in writing historic building reports. At this time, the Museum’s obituary collection numbers about 2,500 obituaries and includes a maiden name index.

To a limited extent, the Museum collects contemporary items relating to Louisville that will one day be historic. These include items relating to businesses and contemporary photos of the town.

The Museum collects intangibles such as information and stories in addition to artifacts. The Museum’s Oral History Program is the most formal way in which past and present residents share their personal stories. To date, the Museum volunteers have conducted and filmed nearly 200 hours of interviews. Also, visitors to the Museum share their stories and memories with the Museum staff. Through such contributions from the public, the Museum acquires factual information relating to such topics as Louisville families, relocated buildings, historic Main Street businesses, and ethnic enclaves and family complexes.