Museum and Archival Collections

The collections manager, or curator, has many different duties, including: the acquisition, cataloging,
inventorying, monitoring, researching, and preservation of all artifacts and archival collections.  The
collections manager also develops and administers policies and procedures in regards to the collections.  
Exhibit design, publication development, public outreach, and educational programming are additional
responsibilities of the collections manager.

Collection Policy and Donation of Artifacts:

The mission of Dakota City Heritage Village is to collect, preserve, and interpret the rural and agricultural
history of Dakota County.
Dakota City Heritage Museum does not accept items that are dropped off.  All gifts must be approved of by
both the Dakota City Heritage Village’s Board of Directors and the Dakota County Agricultural Society’s
Board of Directors prior to legal transfer of property taking place.  All items from donors are reviewed by
staff members before being accepted, which ensures that the items do not duplicate those already owned
by Dakota City.  While Dakota City collects many things, not all items are appropriate for its collections.  

People wishing to donate items to Dakota City should first submit the Potential Acquisition form to the
Dakota City Heritage Village office either by e-mail at or by mail to:

Collections Manager
Dakota City Heritage Village
P.O. Box 73
Farmington, MN 55024

Accessing Potential Donations:

Before the museum acquires an item, the collections manager needs to assess each possible donation
and determine if the objects fit within the collection policy guidelines.  The cost of acquiring, processing,
conserving, storing and providing access to collection items is large and Dakota City does not accept every
donation that is offered for a variety of reasons.  Some of the following questions need to be asked in
accessing each potential acquisition:

* Is the item historically significant to Dakota County, or the surrounding region, and why?
* How does the item relate to Dakota City’s mission and the ability to uphold/carry out that mission?
* Who created the object, where was it created, who used it, and where was it used?
* Does the museum already have a similar object in its collection already?  Are there other items in the
collection related to this object?  Would the item be redundant, or is it filling a gap in the historical timeline
of the collection?
* Is Dakota City the best repository for this item, or would it be better in another museum's collection?  [For
example: our primary focus is on agriculture and rural communities.  There are many items offered to
Dakota City that would more appropriately fit with the broader focus of the Dakota County Historical Society
in South Saint Paul.]
* How much will it cost us to store, preserve, exhibit, and make this item accessible, and is the donor
willing to help pay for it?  Where might we obtain money to catalog, store, and exhibit the item?  How much
space does this item need and is there room for it?
* How well documented is its provenance?  Provenance is the history of an object’s ownership and is an
essential part of the historical value of that object.
* Does the donor want any type of restrictions on the object?  Dakota City only accepts unrestricted items.

After it has been determined that an object would benefit the museum's collection, a Deed of Gift is signed
by both the donor and museum representatives transferring all ownership and rights to the museum.  
Then, historical information about the artifact and the donor are collected to add context to each item.  The
artifact is described, measured, photographed and numbered for the museum’s records and entered into
the database.

Control of Artifacts:

To properly care for and preserve artifacts donated to Dakota City, the museum needs to have three
controls: intellectual control, physical control, and legal control.

Intellectual Control: properly identifying the object, its use, and who created and used the item.

Physical Control: knowing the exact location of the object in storage, on exhibit, or on loan.  This ensures
an artifact will not be lost or stolen.

Legal Control: evidence of the transfer of ownership of the artifact from the donor to the museum.  This
allows the museum to exhibit, interpret and store the artifact without limitations or restrictions and is proof
that the museum legally owns the object outright.

Artifact Preservation:

Why does it cost so much to care for museum objects?  That is a complicated question to answer as there
are so many factors involved in caring for each individual artifact.  In order to properly preserve an artifact,
each object should be stored in acid-free containers in a climate-controlled building.  Some items take a
considerable amount of time to properly document.  The museum keeps records on everything that can be
found out about an item including its history, information on how it was used, when and where it was
made, who made it, and who used it.  Museum staff records the physical description of each and every
artifact, and keeps a record of its condition (such as if it has stains or is broken in some way).  Hard copy
records are entered into a computer database, and finding aids are created and added to Dakota City’s
website to make material available for research.

Many steps are involved in caring for and documenting just one object, when you multiply that by the
thousands of objects in the museum’s collections, it becomes easier to see why collection management
costs the museum so much time and money.

Without these essential supplies and time spent caring for objects, future generations may not be able to
see the valuable things Dakota City Heritage Village has been working to preserve.  If you would like to
contribute time or money to preserving the artifacts in our collection, or if you have items to donate to the
museum, please contact us at 651-460-8050 or