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What do I do if the WDM doesn’t want my artifacts?

The WDM Collection of artifacts represents over 75, 000 artifacts, most of which were generously donated by Saskatchewan people. In fact, we have so many artifacts, that we generally decline most artifact offers made to the WDM. This means respectfully saying “no thank you” many hundreds of times a year.

Most artifact offers we receive are the types of objects you will already see at the WDM. It’s understandable that people offer us more of what are well-known parts of our Collection. For example, we are regularly offered sadirons (we have 40 already in the WDM Collection), sewing machines (80 in the Collection), plows (150 in the Collection) and gas tractors (230 in the Collection). However, we do not have the resources to collect any more of these early household and agricultural objects.

A few of the many sadirons in the WDM collection, as viewed on our collections database. Click on image to enlarge.

That isn’t to say we aren’t collecting! We have prioritized collecting objects that tell stories that are underrepresented or completely missing from the WDM Collection. Read our Collections Development Plan to learn more about our current collecting priorities. CLICK HERE to read.

It’s hard to let go!

Dolls are a popular type of personal collection, often with strong sentimental value and links to family and childhood. Click to enlarge.

We know that it can be very hard to give up treasured objects. Sometimes heirlooms have strong sentimental value and are connected to loved ones or special memories. You may have spent time and money building and maintaining a personal collection. Perhaps there’s even a sense of obligation to care for these objects and feelings of guilt about letting them go.

Many people who offer an artifact to the WDM are disappointed if we decline as donating to a museum collection provides assurance that objects and their stories will be preserved, relieving some of the stress of letting go. There are lots of resources online and in your local library to help you learn how to let go if you are struggling (think Marie Kondo!).

So, what can I do with my objects?

Local Museums: If your object has a strong connection to a smaller community in Saskatchewan, check with the nearest local museum. The Museums Association of Saskatchewan has a great tool to locate museums and their contact information.

Specialized Museums: If you have an object or collection that represents a specific aspect of history, search online for a museum that specializes in it provincially or nationally. Did you know there is a Saskatchewan Aviation Museum or a Canadian Canoe Museum?

Archives: If you have document or photo collections, talk with your local archives.

Other Community Organizations: Maybe there’s a local theatre that could use your vintage clothing and household pieces as props, a nearby school that could use your National Geographic collection for collage art or, an annual charitable book sale.

Repurpose: Get creative and sew your heirloom clothing into a quilt or stuffed animal. Turn a vintage sewing machine unit into a table. There are thousands of upcycling ideas online!

Sell Them: Local antique stores and collectors, auction houses and online markets are one way to send your objects to someone who wants them and hopefully make some money while doing it.


By; Julie Jackson, Collections Manager

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