Here are the questions we are most often asked about our collection. If you do not find the answer to your question below, please contact us at the Museum at [email protected]shiremuseum.org
Why does the museum have a collection?
The Museum was created by Zenas Crane for the purpose of sharing local objects and objects from all around the world with the people of Pittsfield. Today, the Museum continues to maintain and build a collection that supports our mission to bring people together for experiences that spark creativity and innovative thinking by making inspiring educational connections among art, history, and natural science. For this reason, our collections include objects from all three of these disciplines.
What does the Berkshire Museum collect?
Our collection is based around the three disciplines of art, history, and natural science. We collect almost anything that falls under this umbrella, as long as we think it will make inspiring connections for our visitors!
Are there things you don’t collect?
The Museum is regularly offered a wide range of objects. Each gift offer is considered thoughtfully and in regards to how it will fit in with the rest of our collection. As museum professionals, we hold objects in the public trust. For that reason, we must think not only about the value of the object to our collection, but also about whether or not we will have the space and resources to properly protect an it for future generations. In some cases we will also turn down objects that are in poor condition, that duplicate items we already own, or that lack provenance (documented history of an object).
I think I have an object that might be a good addition to the Berkshire Museum’s collection. How do I go about offering a gift to the museum?
As a museum that seeks to reflect its community, we are always open to hearing about potential gifts that you think would enhance our collection. The first step in the process is to send an email to the Collections Department (via [email protected]) with a description of the object or objects, any history, and photographs, if possible. From there, we will contact you detailing the rest of the process, which includes further research by museum staff. The Collections Committee, a group of community members and museum professionals who advise us on collections related matters, will make a recommendation to the Board of Directors who ultimately make the final decision to accept and/or acquisition new material into the Museum’s collection.
Can you appraise something for me?
For ethical and legal reasons museum staff are restricted from appraising art and objects. Click here to find a list of resources put together by the Smithsonian Conservation Institute on appraisals.
I visited the Berkshire Museum recently and my favorite object wasn’t on display anymore. Where did it go?
We have over 40,000 objects in our collections so it is impossible for us to display all of the at once. For that reason, we try to come up with new and engaging exhibition ideas which allow us to change out objects every so often so that our visitors can get a better taste of all our collection has to offer. Taking objects off exhibition is also a good way to help preserve and care for our objects, protecting them from long periods of exposure to light and environmental damage.
How can I access collections objects?
If you are researching an object in our collection and need photographs, information, or to see it in person, send an email to [email protected] detailing your request. We will make our best efforts to accommodate you. The collection is meant for public study and use.
For reproduction requests, contact Lesley Ann Beck, senior communications manager, at [email protected]