Collection Items for Transfer

Smithsonian Institution and National Air and Space Museum policies call for the periodic review and evaluation of collections. While our collections are developed with the good faith intention to retain objects for an indefinite time period, these periodic reviews can identify objects that no longer meet our current collecting plans, objects that are insufficiently related to our mission, or objects that are duplicative of other artifacts in our collection. Once such objects are identified, they may be selected for formal removal from the collection through the action of deaccession.

The Smithsonian Institution and the National Air and Space Museum view deaccessioning as an essential element of responsible collections management, which serves to refine and improve the overall quality and relevance of the entire collection with respect to the Museum's mission, purpose and programmatic goals. Our deaccession procedures are designed to ensure thoughtful, well-documented consideration of each proposed object deaccession in the context of the long-term interest of the Smithsonian, the general public and the object itself. Objects which are deaccessioned, may, under certain circumstances, be made available for transfer to other museums and educational organizations.

In order to facilitate such transfers, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has established a process intended to facilitate collaboration with other museums and educational organizations who share our goal of preserving, exhibiting and interpreting objects of historical interest related to the history of aviation and space flight. The process will identify appropriate recipients and formally transfer ownership of objects deaccessioned from the National Air and Space Museum to qualified museums and educational organizations.

To achieve this goal the National Air and Space Museum will:

  • Provide information on available objects to interested and qualified organizations and provide a mechanism for requesting objects;
  • Assess object requests and determine the appropriate distribution of objects to requesting organizations on a regular basis; and
  • Effect the deaccession and transfer of objects in accordance with the policies of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Air and Space Museum.

The National Air and Space Museum has identified a number of objects as candidates for transfer, and this list is available through the following link: Transfer Candidates. Objects on this list have been evaluated against Smithsonian and National Air and Space Museum collections criteria and have been determined to be appropriate deaccession candidates that may be of potential interest for exhibition and study within the collections of other museums and educational organizations. This list will be updated annually, with new additions to the list finalized by May 31, 2014.

Museums or educational organizations interested in requesting the formal transfer of objects from this list are required to submit a request form for their institution to:

National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Collections Division, Office of the Registrar
Independence Avenue at Sixth Street SW
MRC 311, PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Or via email to NASM-Transfer@si.edu.

Proposals for transfer of Museum artifacts will be evaluated on two broad criteria: A commitment to keep objects in the public domain and a capacity to ensure their long-term preservation. The request form asks for information that will help National Air and Space Museum staff assess the ability of requesting organizations to meet these objectives. Some of the relevant factors include:

  • The requesting organization's planned use for a transferred object
  • The connection of an object to a requesting organization's mission and collecting or programmatic goals
  • The requesting organization's staffing, expertise and visitation
  • The requesting organization's capacity to properly restore, care for and exhibit an object over the long-term

The Museum will also seek to ensure that a level of geographic distribution is attained. Museum staff will notify all applicants as to its review and final decisions. All deaccession and transfer decisions are within the Museum's sole discretion. In the event of requests for the same object from more than a single organization, the answers provided within the request form will serve as the basis for ranking multiple requests. The Museum will not transfer objects to institutions seeking to use objects, or parts, for operational aircraft or spacecraft, and requests from private individuals will not be considered. The deadline to request items on the current list of transfer candidates is September 30, 2014.

Once a deaccession and transfer is approved in accordance with the collections management policies of the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, recipient organizations will be expected to coordinate packing and transportation arrangements with National Air and Space Museum staff, and will be responsible for all costs related to the transfer, which may include crating, specialized shipping and appraisals. All transfers will be documented with a transfer agreement, signed by both the Museum and the receiving organization.

Questions about the application process should be directed to NASM-Transfer@si.edu.