Loans & Collection Policy

Are you wondering what kinds of objects we collect? The Milwaukee County Historical Society acquires collections through donation, bequest, purchase or exchange. A Collections Committee reviews objects and recommends approval when appropriate.

We collect only artifacts that help tell Milwaukee’s history. The Historical Society will consider items for acquisition and accessioning if the following criteria are met:

* The item(s) falls within the MCHS collection scope.
* MCHS can properly care for or develop a plan for the care of the item(s) in accordance with professionally accepted standards.
* The item(s) is in reasonable condition and will not adversely affect other items in the collections or pose a threat to human life.
* The item(s) comes with free and clear title.
* The item(s) meets collections needs by filling a gap in the collection or replacing an inferior example.
* The item(s) does not represent an unnecessary duplication of artifacts already in the collections.
* MCHS intends to keep the item in the collection as long as the item retains its physical integrity and usefulness for MCHS’s purposes.

Please review the Society’s Collections Policy (PDF) for more information.

The Collections department is currently looking for these types of artifacts to supplement our collection:

  • Brewery Memorabilia relating to any Milwaukee breweries
  • Political memorabilia relating to any current or past county, state, and city elections
  • Military collections (uniforms, equpment, etc.) that relate to veterans from Milwaukee who served in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.


As part of our professional responsibility to make our collections available to the public, the Milwaukee County Historical Society may lend objects from our collections. In addition, we request loans from other museums for our exhibit programing. Both outgoing and incoming loans will be for periods of not more than one year, though the loan agreement may be renewed on a yearly basis should the borrowing institution or MCHS require the artifacts for a longer term.

We require three months prior notification to the exhibit’s opening date for any outgoing loan to be approved. All loans presented to the Curator of Collections must approved jointly with the Executive Director. To apply for a loan of MCHS’ collections, download the loan application here.