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Donate to the Collection

Your story of survival can inspire the lives of future generations and empower young people to carry on the fight against intolerance, hatred, and antisemitism. Your help will allow us to accurately impart the legacy of our Chicagoland and the Midwest region’s Survivors and lost families.

Through the acquisition, preservation, and exhibition of its collections, the Museum strives to document and make available a historical record of the Holocaust for current and future generations. The Museum is actively accepting donations of  period photographs, documents, and artifacts that will help to accurately illustrate the losses and legacies of our region’s Survivors.

How to Donate

If you have items which you believe would make valuable additions to the collection, please contact the Collections Department at 847.967.4817 or to schedule an in-person appointment. Unsolicited donations of items sent through the mail or delivered to the Museum without an appointment cannot be accepted. Museum staff do not provide appraisal values for donations.

Accepted Items

Types of materials collected by the Museum include:

  • Art: period drawings, prints, sculpture, posters, and other creative works
  • Audio and video testimonies
  • Period books and pamphlets
  • Broadsides, announcements, advertisements, posters and maps
  • Film, video and audio recordings
  • Furnishings, architectural fragments, models, machinery, and tools
  • Personal effects, ritual objects, jewelry, musical instruments, and numismatics (coins)
  • Personal papers and government documents, correspondence, diaries, memoirs, and scrapbooks
  • Photographs and photo albums
  • Textiles: uniforms, clothing, badges, armbands, flags, and banners

The Museum collects materials that illustrate and document:

  • Prewar life of communities targeted by the Nazis
  • Rise of Nazism
  • Repression and crimes of the Nazi regime and its collaborators
  • World response to the Nazi regime and its occupation of Europe
  • Experiences in ghettos, concentration camps, and Nazi-occupied territories
  • Resistance, rescue, and life in hiding
  • US service men and women of the Chicagoland area involved with concentration camp liberation and resettlement of refugees
  • Liberation and reemergence of Jewish life after the war with an emphasis on the Midwest region
  • Pursuit of justice through restitution and war crimes trials
  • Attempted 1970’s neo-Nazi march in Skokie

The Museum collection is largely focused on period documentation, however, on rare occasion, and under exceptional circumstance, may acquire original works of art created after the Holocaust.

The Museum no longer accepts Nazi memorabilia such as flags and armbands, with exceptions made for more rare items not yet represented in the Museum’s collection. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will all donated items be on display?

The Museum cannot guarantee that any item donated to the collection will be displayed. Artifacts are rotated on an as-needed basis so that they can be preserved from the elements, which could otherwise cause damage and/or deterioration, and to increase access to the many thousands of objects housed in the collection.

It is the Museum’s intention to utilize items in the collection to the fullest potential possible. In some cases, artifacts may become part of an exhibit, a traveling exhibition, or occasionally  loaned to other institutions for exhibition. Donated artifacts will be archived and preserved for study by scholars and researchers for years to come. The Museum maintains optimal environmental conditions in the galleries and storage facilities to ensure the long-term preservation of all collection materials.

If I donate artifacts or documents to the Museum, will they be returned at my request?

Once the Museum accepts your donation into the collection, you will be asked to sign a Deed of Gift document, which legally transfers ownership of the materials to the Museum. Once the Deed of Gift has been signed, artifacts cannot be returned to donors. The Museum can supply donors with high-resolution digital copies of their donated materials upon request.

Are Museum donations tax deductible?

The Museum is recognized as a qualified charitable organization; thus the fair market value of donated materials is generally tax deductible. To take advantage of this deduction, you must file tax form 1040 and, depending on the value of the donation, tax form 8283.

To ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit, it is recommended that you consult with an accountant, attorney, and/or the Internal Revenue Service. You may also consult Internal Revenue Service Publication No. 526, Charitable Contributions, and Publication No. 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.

Can the Illinois Holocaust Museum appraise my donation?

No. The Museum cannot provide appraisals of the monetary value of materials proposed for donation because the Internal Revenue Service regards museums and libraries as interested parties. Monetary appraisals prepared for donors by such institutions are subject to question or disqualification.

However, professional appraisers do perform this service for a fee. To find a licensed appraiser in your area, contact the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America for a referral.

Will I be notified if my donation goes on exhibit?

Yes. The Museum notifies all donors by U.S. mail in the event that their contribution to the collection is displayed.

Am I able to research, view, or obtain copies of certain items in your collection?

Our collection is available for research and review by appointment only. Please contact the Museum’s registrar at 847.967.4818 or

How can I view or obtain a copy of a specific Survivor testimony?

Testimonies recorded by the Shoah Foundation can be viewed in our library by appointment or can be downloaded via the Shoah Foundation’s website.

Testimonies recorded by the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois can be viewed on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website.


Photo credits: Scott Edwards

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