Item Donation

Shelves of donated lamps, lanterns, and light fixtures.

The Thunder Bay Museum accepts donations of historically significant artifacts and archival material from individuals, businesses, groups and associations. 

Donated items should be from, or have a direct link to Thunder Bay and/or Northwestern Ontario. Tax receipts are issued for the appraised value of donated items.

Please discuss your donation with the Museum’s Curatorial Department at (807) 623-0801 or by emailing the us at [email protected].

Wish List

The Thunder Bay Museum is always seeking donation of objects, media, and documents related to the history of Thunder Bay and Northwest Ontario.  We are constantly reevaluating our collections priorities.  Below is a list of areas we are focusing our collecting efforts to enhance the completeness of our collection.

  • Peoples from Non-European Origins
  • Bottling Industries
    • Breweries
    • Milk
    • Soda
  • Agriculture
  • Small Business
    • Local Sewing / Fashion Industry
    • Restaurants
  • Education
    • Closed Schools
    • Uniforms
  • Hunting / Fishing / Trapping
  • Music
    • Local and Modern

Frequently Asked Questions

The Thunder Bay Museum always encourages the public to help broaden and enrich the history of the Thunder Bay and Northwest Ontario through donated items. The generosity of the public provides many of the items used by the museum to create, sustain and continually enhance its many exhibits and study collection. We review every donation offer individually to see if it meets our collection needs and fits our mission to tell the story of the Thunder Bay and Northwest Ontario.

We are always on the lookout for new and exciting items related to the rich history of the Thunder Bay and Northwest Ontario.

Common objects of interest include items related to ethnological development, cultural development, natural resources and tourism, natural history, exploration, First Nations and Métis, fur trade, immigration and settlement, industry, manufacturing, and trade & transportation. Items might include but not limited to clothing, textiles, equipment, vehicles, tools, household goods, farm goods, etc.

The Museum is also interested in acquiring materials such as photographs and documents related to Thunder Bay and Northwest Ontario history. We incorporate these items into our exhibits and educational programs, and make them available to interested scholars and researchers.

Please see our regularly updated donation wish list for specific items we are currently seeking.

If you have an item(s) you would like to donate to the museum, please email [email protected] or send a letter to:

Thunder Bay Museum Curator
425 Donald St. E.
Thunder Bay, ON P7E 5V1

Please provide any biographical/background information that you have about the item(s) you wish to donate.

No, the museum does not accept unsolicited donations. Due to the volume of offers that occur each day, we cannot accept unsolicited material dropped off at the museum or unsolicited material sent through the mail.

Once a donation offer has been accepted by the Collections Committee, you will be given instructions on how to mail/ship and/or deliver the donation to us.

Donations can only be dropped off at the museum front desk after written coordination/confirmation with the museum curator or registrar.

All donations are reviewed by the Thunder Bay Museum Collections Committee prior to acceptance.

Accepted donations are retained either for exhibit at the museum, loan to certified organizations, or preservation in our research/study collection. The Collections Committee consists of the senior staff and board members.

If the committee approves the donation offer, you will be contacted and provided with further instructions. If at some point during the donation process it is determined that the item(s) does not meet the required criteria for the collection, the item(s) may be declined.

Our Collections Policy does not allow for the museum to dispose of or forward material to other organizations.

While we wish we could accept any and all offers, the Thunder Bay Museum has neither the storage capability nor the staff resources to accept everything. Our collecting is very focused on filling gaps in our collection.

Once a donation is approved by the Collections Committee and received you will be notified. The accessioning process, in which the item(s) are cataloged into the collection, will then begin. Once this is completed, you will receive an acknowledgement letter.

It is against policy to accept personal loans of historical property. Such loans impose a significant administrative burden on the museum as well as other responsibilities and are contrary to best practices as advocated by the Canadian Museum Association.

Items offered to the museum are accepted only when donated unconditionally as gifts to the Thunder Bay Museum without restrictions, free and clear of all encumbrances.

We do accept artwork however our Collecting Plan is very specific. 

We also have a reciprocal agreement with the Thunder Bay Art Gallery to collect outside their mandate of post-1960s Contemporary Art. 

We collect historical artworks of any medium.  If this is unclear or you have questions about art you wish to donate don’t hesitate to contact us.

While the Thunder Bay Museum cannot guarantee that any item(s) will be placed on exhibit, we can promise that donated items will be preserved and cared for as a valued part of Thunder Bay’s historical collection for future generations.

Like most other museums, only a small percentage of our collection (about 5%) is on exhibit. The rest is in secure storage and is used for research, future exhibit needs, and as a historical study collection.