Museum Collections

Several artifacts that are the same shade of green in an exhibit case.The Michigan History Center collects and preserves the objects - called artifacts - of Michigan’s past. We bring together and care for artifacts that Michigander’s have made, used and treasured over the past 12,000 years. Our collection contains more than 95,000 artifacts that tell Michigan stories, from Stevie Wonder’s harmonica to the everyday things that show how we have lived, worked and played through the ages.

We display the artifacts in our collection at the Michigan History Museum in Lansing and at our museums and historic sites across the state. But our goal is not just to display the objects that tell Michigan’s story, we also seek to preserve them for future generations.

We collect a wide variety of artifacts related to Michigan’s past—things that are important to telling our stories. If you have artifacts that were made in Michigan, used and loved by Michigan people, then we would like to hear from you.  Please tell us about what you have, we’d love to hear about your Michigan story.

Collecting COVID-19

There is no question that the coronavirus emergency that is so deeply affecting all our lives is a significant history-making time. The Michigan History Center is collecting the stories of diverse Michiganders so that the record we preserve in 2020 will help future generations understand what it felt like to live through this time.

If you have an object you'd like to donate, please complete our Artifact Donation Information form - fillable PDF, and email it to DNR-MHC-MuseumCollections@Michigan.gov.

Not sure what to donate? Here are some examples of items the Center may be interested in collecting:

  • Signs from local stores noting buying limits or inability to stock certain items.
  • Masks sewn by home crafters.
  • Face shields and filters fabricated or 3D printed by Michiganders.
  • Badges or signs from hospitals.
  • Artwork created by families while sheltering in place.
  • Used gift cards or gift certificates from local businesses.
  • T-shirts and other apparel related to the pandemic.

Visit the Collecting COVID-19 page for other opportunities to donate your story. 

Donate an Artifact

The Michigan History Museum collects artifacts that relate to the history, culture and people of Michigan. The museum relies primarily on individual donations from private citizens. The collections include more than 100,000 artifacts ranging from farm tools to elegant 19th-century textiles and streamlined 20th-century automobiles.

Interested in donating an artifact? Download the Artifact Donation Information form - fillable PDF.

Complete the form electronically and then send to DNR-MHC-MuseumCollections@michigan.gov.

-OR-

Print and then mail the completed form to:
Museum Collections Unit, Attn: Registrar
Michigan History Center
702 W. Kalamazoo Street
P.O. Box 30740
Lansing, MI 48909-8240

All forms, whether submitted via email or surface mail, must be accompanied by photographs of the offered artifact(s) and any known history or stories. Please do not send or bring items to the museum until instructed by a staff member to do so.

Due to the volume of donation offers the museum receives, please allow six to eight weeks for your request to be processed.

 

Updated 04/09/2020