About our Collection

Collection items are 3-D objects, such as clothing, furniture, or ceramics. Our collections include over 25,000 objects relating to Hennepin County history.

We use our collections items to tell the story of Hennepin County through exhibits, both on display in our building and at venues throughout the county.

What can you see?

  • Not everything from our collection is on display all the time. See the Exhibitions page to see what is on display in the museum today.
  • Check out our On the Road posts to see what’s out in the community right now.
  • We feature objects from the collection on our blog: Snapshots & Stories.
  • Read about pieces from the collection in Hennepin History Magazine.

About our Collections Project

The Museum is currently conducting a collections-wide inventory project. The inventory was initiated in January 2017 to gain physical and intellectual control of the 3D artifacts in the Museum’s collection. Under the guidance of the Collections Manager, volunteers assist in cataloging, photographing, and researching each artifact. As of January 2019, 6,000 objects have been inventoried.

Throughout 2019, you can see the project in process in our Shelf Life exhibition.

You can also be a part of the project.

If you are interested in volunteering to be a part of the Collections Project, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@hennepinhistory.org or (612) 870-1329.

Frequently Asked Questions about Donating Objects to the Museum

While we would like to be able to collect everything and anything related to Hennepin County history, such a collection would be too large for one institution to manage. Space is an issue in the building and maintaining and preserving an item to museum standards is a costly endeavor. For this reason, we have to say no more often than we can say yes to potential museum donations; to accept everything would mean that we could not give the collections the time and care that they deserve.

Currently we are not accepting donations of objects, while we work on our ongoing Collections Project, which we hope to complete in the next few years. This policy ensures that our institution can properly care for and preserve artifacts within our means. If you feel that you have an item that would be appropriate for the HHM collection, we encourage you to contact the museum directly and speak to our Collections Manager.

Donations to the HHM Archives and/or Library can be made at any time, however the condition of the items to be donated, the scope of the materials in relation to Hennepin County, and the amount of room we have available for proper storage in our collection will be considered when accepting items.

When donating materials to our archive, the first step would be to contact our Museum Archivist, and fill out a Donations Acquisitions Form that will allow you to assess and describe the condition of materials to be donated.

Please do not drop off or mail objects without first contacting the museum – we want to make sure that your potential gift is properly identified and cared for.