From time to time museums discover in their collections items for which there is no certain provenance and or explicit proof of ownership. Museums fundamentally depend upon clear title to items in their collections as a basis for curation, preservation and presentation—items lacking this information cannot be fully considered part of a museum’s accessioned collection. The Collections Management Policy of the Anacostia Community Museum provides a mechanism through which items without complete and certain title may be included in the permanent collection – a provenance designation of “Found in Collection.” This designation indicates that comprehensive research in the origin and provenance of an object has been completed by Museum collections staff. This research frequently documents the long presence of an object in the Museum’s holdings, indications of its origins and oral histories regarding the ownership and donation of an item. The result of this research must be a belief that the Museum holds the collections in good faith and that we are the proper, if undocumented, owner of the materials. “Found in Collection” indicates that the Collections Committee and Director of the Museum have reviewed and concur that the object likely belongs to the museum and declares ownership, placing the object into the accessioned permanent collection. Nevertheless, we welcome any information the public may have about items indicated as “Found in Collection.” If you believe you can help us document the provenance and ownership of one of these items, please do not hesitate to contact the museum.
Permanent Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum