Building Our Collections

Since opening in 2002 as a World War II Heritage Center, our museum’s collections have grown to over 6,000 individual items. Artifacts such as uniforms, weapons, military accoutrements and souvenirs, along with archival items including photographs, maps, newspapers, letters and diaries, are a well-rounded accumulation of materials that help tell the story of how the World War II generation faced one of our nation’s most challenging times.

With the broadening of our Mission and the expansion of the scope of our collecting the Center now seeks materials from the World War II time period through to today to help us tell the story of how our Veterans have protected our freedoms.

If you or someone you know has material related to US military service from the World War II period-forward that they may want to share via a donation to the Center please contact us for more details on what we are seeking and how to make a donation.

BEFORE YOU DONATE

Donating an item to a museum generally means that you are surrendering ownership to the piece forever. The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center uses a Deed of Gift form which the donor signs to complete the donation. By signing the deed of gift you confirm that you are the owner of the item and that you have the right to dispose of it.

We encourage potential donors to discuss the donation of items with their families to confirm that there is no interest in retaining the piece as a family possession; once a deed of gift is completed descendents most likely will have no legal claim to an item. Be sure that an item is yours to donate and that you are absolutely sure that you are willing for it to become a museum’s property. It is the Center’s position that items should be retained by the donor or passed on to someone of their choice rather than go to a museum if there is any chance of ‘donor regret’.

It is also possible that a donor may realize some tax benefit from their donation as the Center’s parent organization (the Bong P-38 Fund, Inc.) is a 501c3 charitable organization. It is the responsibility of the donor to investigate the potential tax benefits of a donation. The Bong P-38 Fund, Inc. and its employees cannot offer opinions on possible tax deductions of donated items nor of their fair market value. The IRS does not allow museums to provide valuations or appraisals to donors for tax purposes as we are parties to the donation. Donors wishing to determine the fair market value of potential donated items should contact professional appraisers or recognized experts on the various types of items involved.

PERMANENT VERSUS EDUCATIONAL COLLECTION

The Center’s ‘Permanent’ collection is basically just that-material we intend to keep for as long as possible to use in exhibits or for research purposes. Depending on the piece we may want to preserve it in its current condition (if it shows the wear of actual service, for instance) or it may be desirable to restore some aspect of the piece for exhibition or stability (sewing buttons on uniforms is a good example of this, as is carefully removing rust).

The Center’s ‘Education’ collection consists of materials that can be handled by visitors-primarily school students-so that they can “hold history in their hands.” As such, we anticipate that these items will eventually wear out. Typically, education collection materials are duplicates to existing items in the collection. No weapons, rare and unique items are included in the education collection.

TYPES OF MATERIALS WE ARE SEEKING

• Uniforms-all branches, ranks. We have many WWII era uniforms in the collections but yours may be unique or might fill a hole in our collection-let’s talk about it. Also, we need post-WWII uniforms. Uniforms may become part of our permanent collection or be used in the education collection.
• Military accoutrements, medals, etc.-WWII to present. Canteens, helmets, mess kits, compasses, webbing belts, first aid kits, rations, sewing kits, etc. This is a broad category. Duplicates to existing collection items may be used for the education collection.
• Firearms and edged weapons-all eras, WWII to present. Our collection is small but growing. These types of materials never become part of our education collection.
Letters & diaries-all eras WWII to present. These may be original materials or, if you prefer to keep the originals, we can scan them to use as research materials for exhibits or for publication (with the donor’s permission).
• Photographs or moving pictures-all eras, WWII to present. As with letters or diaries, we also accept reproduction of these types of materials if the donor should like to keep the originals.
Military service documents, service-related news clippings, maps, training materials, etc.-all eras, WWII to present. Archival materials such as these help tell the story of individuals and their personal experiences.

Please feel free to contact our collections department here,  or by regular mail or telephone.