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A Guide to Donating or Selling Objects

The Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC) operates and administers three museums in Ottawa. They are the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Agriculture Museum at the Central Experimental Farm. All three share a common objective: to help people understand the transformation of Canadian life resulting from science and technology. To do this the CSTMC acquires, displays and preserves representative objects, devices, documents, photographs, technical drawings, and other artifacts of our technological history. Some of these come from businesses and corporations, but many more are donated or sold to the CSTMC by individuals like you.

We appreciate your interest in helping to preserve Canada's technological heritage and build our collections, whether through donation or sale. The following questions and answers give an overview of the process.


General Information

What happens when I offer something to one of the Museums?

When you contact one of the Museums to offer it something, a well established acquisition policy is followed. First, a curator determines whether the Museum requires the object for its collection and, depending on the nature of your offer, may assess its value. Such information 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 compare the object with the Museum'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.

What is the difference between a donation, a donation with a tax receipt, and a sale?

Donation: If you make an outright donation to the Museum, you have transferred ownership of the object to the CSTMC without receiving any payment or other benefit.

Donation with a tax receipt: Under the Income Tax Act, the CSTMC 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 Revenue Canada (usually $1,000), 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 CSTMC. You will then be expected to provide a sales invoice, dated and signed by the owner, indicating the agreed purchase price.

How is "fair market value" determined?

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 Revenue Canada for the relevant tax bulletins or consult your financial advisor.

What special provisions apply to "significant cultural property"?

If you donate an item of exceptionally high value or cultural significance (beyond specified limits that depend on the age, type and origin of the object), the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board may issue a tax receipt that allows you to deduct 100 per cent of the value of the donation from your income. In such cases the CSTMC will apply on your behalf to have the artifact designated as a "significant cultural property." Application may be made only after the formal transfer of ownership.

What is the role of the Acquisition Committee?

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 Acquisition Committee before the object may be added to the artifact collection and the CSTMC can issue payment or a tax receipt.

How is ownership formally transferred to the Museum?

If the CSTMC 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 CSTMC.

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.

What recognition do donors receive?

Once an object has been acquired for the collection it becomes the property of the CSTMC, which may store, display or interpret it according to established museum practices.

Donors' names are listed each year in the CSTMC'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 Museum'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.

When are artifacts removed from the collection and what happens to them?

Curators periodically assess the collection and may decide to remove from the collection (deaccession) artifacts that no longer serve the Museum's goals. An artifact may be deaccessioned because of duplication, because that 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 CSTMC'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.

Information for United States Residents

Potential donors resident in the US may be able to make use of a tax receipt issued for donations to CSTMC institutions. IRS Publication 526 Charitable Contributions provides a starting point to determine if you may be able to benefit from a donation and tax receipt. This publication states:

Canadian charities. You may be able to deduct contributions to certain Canadian charitable organizations covered under an income tax treaty with Canada. To deduct your contribution to a Canadian charity, you generally must have income from sources in Canada. See Publication 597, Information on the United States-Canada Income Tax Treaty, for information on how to figure your deduction.

For further information consult:


General Information

For enquiries contact:

Email: Christina Harb
Telephone: 613 991-3081
Fax: 613 990-3636

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