Donating Items

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum provides for the collection and curation of object, archaeological, and archival collections relating to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and other Cahuilla groups for the purposes of preservation, documentation, education, exhibition, and research. The Museum may also collect materials that aid in the interpretation of other Native Americans and Indigenous peoples.

How to Donate Items or Collections

Due to space constraints and the need to maintain a focused collection based on the Museum’s Statement and Collection Policy, not all donations may be accepted. Criteria considered when deciding on a proposed acceptance of an item or collection include:

  • Whether or not the item or collection adheres to the Museum’s Mission Statement & Collection Policy
  • Costs required to maintain the item or collection, including, but not limited to, conservation
  • Restrictions or conditions imposed by the donor
  • Condition of the item or collection
  • Title, rights, or legal status of the item or collection
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) regulations

Call or e-mail the Curatorial Department to make an appointment.
Contact Archivist Cara Stansberry at or 760.833.8171.

Please do not drop off objects or bring them to the Museum without prior discussion with a Curatorial Department staff member. Unsolicited objects and other materials may not be accepted.

When donating an item, please provide as much of the following information as possible, as it will greatly assist the Museum staff in making a decision:

  • The item or collection provenance (i.e. object description and identification, place of origin, previous ownership)
  • The item or collection provenience (i.e. location of origin)
  • The item or collection pedigree (object history, previous exhibition, public history)
  • The item or collection condition (inherent vice, repair, restoration)
  • Your contact information
  • The legal owner of the item

Donors receive Temporary Custody forms for items or collections taken into Museum custody for consideration. The Collections Committee generally meets once a month to discuss and review proposed donations. After evaluation by the Collections Committee, the items or collections will then be reviewed and voted upon by the Museum Board of Directors.

Item Donations and Donation Wish List

Donated items which are deemed by the Curatorial Department, Collections Committee, and Board of Directors to be directly relevant to the Museum Mission Statement and Collection Policy are gladly accepted. Please note that, currently, the Museum is not purchasing items or collections.

Curatorial Department staff members have designated the following types of materials as highly sought after:

  • Cahuilla, Mission, and Southern California baskets/basketry items
  • Cahuilla pottery (e.g. ollas, pipes, etc.)
  • Cahuilla artifacts in general (e.g. sandals, tools, rattles, etc.)
  • Photographs, negatives, photo albums, or film footage depicting Cahuilla people or scenes from the Agua Caliente or other Cahuilla Reservations (Indian Canyons, bathhouse, Round House, Hot Spring, etc.)
  • Letters and personal correspondence relating to Cahuilla people and subjects
  • Ephemera (e.g. postcards, souvenirs, brochures, flyers, etc.) documenting Agua Caliente or Cahuilla subjects

Appraisals and Tax Deductions

The Museum cannot and will not provide appraisals, in accordance with the federal law (Tax Reform Act of 1984) and the Museum Code of Ethics. This is strictly enforced.

Donors must obtain evaluations and appraisals of donations for tax purposes from independent experts of their own choice. The Museum cannot recommend a specific appraiser. Sources for locating appraisers include:

  • American Society of Appraisers,
  • Local yellow pages under “Appraisers”
  • Google appraisers of fine art

Contributing Money for the Care and Purchase of Collection Items

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum has limited funds for purchasing and caring for collections. For information about how to make a contribution of cash or securities to help acquire needed items and to care for items already in the Museum collections, contact Carol Edwards, Office Manager, at 760.833.8165 or