Donate or Sell Objects
Guide to Donating or Selling Objects
The Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation operates three national museums in Ottawa: the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum. All three share a common objective: to help people understand the ways in which scientific and technological endeavour has transformed Canadian life. To meet this goal, the Corporation acquires, displays, and preserves representative objects, devices, documents, photographs, technical drawings, and other artifacts of Canada’s scientific and technological heritage. Some of these come from businesses and institutions, but many more are donated or sold to the Corporation by individuals like you.
We appreciate your interest in helping to preserve Canada’s scientific and technological heritage and build the Corporation’s collection. The following questions and answers give an overview of the process.
- What happens when I offer something to one of the Museums?
- What is the role of the Acquisition Committee?
- What is the difference between a donation, a donation with a tax receipt, and a sale?
- How is ‘‘fair market value’’ determined?
- What special provisions apply to ‘‘significant cultural property’’?
- How is ownership formally transferred to the Corporation?
- What recognition do donors receive?
- When are artifacts removed from the collection and what happens to them?
When you contact one of the Museums to offer it something, a well established acquisition policy is followed. First, a curator determines whether the Corporation requires the object for its collection and, depending on the nature of your offer, may assess its value. Information such as manufacturer’s name, model, serial number, details of use, or provenance (who owned it or other historical associations of special interest) all help the curator to compare the object with the Corporation’s current holdings and decide how it may fit into the story of technological development in Canada. Since documenting, cataloguing, preserving, and storing artifacts is very costly, the Museums do not attempt to collect examples of every innovation or the products of every Canadian company.
If a curator concludes that an object should be added to the collection, he or she develops a proposal and makes a recommendation to the Acquisition Committee. This recommendation must be accepted by the Committee before the object can be added to the collection and the Corporation can issue payment or a tax receipt.
Donation: If you make an outright donation to the Corporation, you have transferred ownership of the object to the Corporation without receiving any payment or other benefit.
Donation with a tax receipt: Under the Income Tax Act, the Corporation may issue you a receipt for income tax purposes for the fair market value of the object you have donated. The curator may assess the value of the object, but if this value is above a certain limit set by the Canada Revenue Agency (usually $2,000), one or more independent appraisers may need to be consulted to establish the fair market value.
Sale: You may also sell the object to the Corporation.
For income tax purposes, fair market value is the amount something would sell for in an open market between a willing buyer and a willing seller who are both knowledgeable, informed, and prudent and who are acting independently of each other. It may take a few weeks to several months or longer to determine the fair market value, depending on the nature of the object and the availability of appraisers with the required expertise. Income tax legislation does not permit you to include taxes or customs duties as part of the value.
To learn more about the tax implications of a donation or sale (when you may realize a capital gain) you should ask the Canada Revenue Agency for the relevant tax bulletins or consult your financial advisor.
If you donate an item of outstanding significance and national importance, the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board may issue a certificate that enables you to deduct 100 percent of the value of the donation from your income. In such a case, the Corporation will apply on your behalf to have the artifact certified by the Board. Application may be made only after the formal transfer of ownership to the Corporation.
If the Corporation agrees to purchase the object you have offered, you will need to issue a sales invoice. You may also be required to prove that you own the object or have authority to transfer it to the Corporation.
In the case of a donation, transfer of ownership is formalized by a gift agreement, which states:
I, the undersigned donor, hereby give absolutely to the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation the object(s) listed herein and, in so doing, I understand and agree that the object(s) may be retained, displayed, loaned, disposed of, or otherwise dealt with in such a manner as the Corporation may deem to be in its best interest.
Once an object has been acquired for the collection it becomes the property of the Corporation, which may store, display, or interpret it according to established museum practices.
Donors’ names are listed each year in the Corporation’s Annual Report. When artifacts are exhibited, the names of donors are recognized in accordance with museum policy and practices. You may not place special conditions on the way the Museum displays or labels your donation.
In the case of purchased artifacts, the name of the source is retained in the Corporation’s confidential records. The seller is usually recognized on labels or in publications only if he or she has played a significant role in the history of the artifact, as its builder or inventor, for example.
Curators periodically assess the collection and may decide to remove from the collection (deaccession) artifacts that no longer serve the Corporation’s goals. An artifact may be deaccessioned because of duplication, because its type of technology is over-represented in the collection, or because it is in poor physical condition.
The Acquisition Committee must approve deaccessioning before any object is removed from the collection. If a curator recommends deaccessioning a particularly valuable object, its disposal must be approved by both the Committee and the Corporation’s Board of Trustees.
Objects approved for deaccessioning are first offered to other Canadian museums. If other museums express no interest, the objects are disposed of in accordance with accepted museum practices.
To enquire about donating or selling objects to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Science and Technology Museum, or the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, contact:
Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation
P.O. Box 9724, Station T
Ottawa, Ontario K1G 5A3
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