Considering making a gift of art to the MFA? The Gifts of Art team is here to help. If your question is not addressed below, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Donors of works of art enjoy the satisfaction of entrusting their art to the care of the MFA, recognition in the Denman Waldo Ross Society, and opportunities for charitable tax deductions or estate tax planning. We look forward to hearing from you!
Express Your Interest
Contact the Gifts of Art Program using the Gifts of Art Inquiry Form to tell us about the art object or collection that you wish to offer as a gift. We realize you may not have all the facts about your art, but please provide as much information as possible about the artwork and where it came from.
After submitting the inquiry form, you will receive a confirmation e-mail. Please reply to the confirmation e-mail with images attached.
After we receive the images and information, our curatorial team will determine whether the MFA would be the right home for your work of art. We may follow up to ask for additional information. Due to the large number of inquiries we receive, please allow at least 2 to 4 weeks to receive a response.
Consider Gift Options and Tax Planning
There are many ways to make a gift of art to meet your current and future financial and personal goals. We can provide various options, and we recommend that you consult with your tax advisor or attorney about your individual planning needs and current IRS requirements.
Outright Gifts during Your Lifetime
Outright gifts during your lifetime allow you to claim a charitable deduction for income tax purposes. An outright gift is completed when the Museum has physical possession of the artwork, the donor has signed a Deed of Gift to transfer ownership of the artwork to the Museum, and the MFA’s Committee on the Collection has formally accepted the gift.
Pledged Promised Gifts
Pledged promised gifts allow you to continue to enjoy the use of your artwork while making an irrevocable pledge to donate it to the Museum in the future, either during your lifetime or upon your death. (A charitable deduction will be available when the artwork is made an outright gift, not at the time of the pledge.)
Bequests allow you to plan for a gift of art in your will. With a bequest, you are able to clarify your intentions for your artwork’s disposition after your death, and potentially lessen the burden of estate taxes on your heirs. Unlike a pledged promised gift, bequests may be changed during your lifetime. The recommended language for making a bequest in your will is: I, __________, give and bequeath [description of artwork] to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as an unrestricted gift.
Funds for Conservation and Collections Care
Funds for conservation and collections care are tax deductible gifts. Many donors who make gifts of art also contribute funds to help the Museum preserve works of art for future generations.
Formalize Your Gift
Once you and the Museum have agreed to proceed with your gift, the Museum will prepare gift documentation for your signature. For outright gifts, MFA staff will work with you to arrange to bring the work of art to the Museum. After the gift is formally accepted by the Museum, you will receive written acknowledgement of your gift. The Gifts of Art team is available to answer questions about gift documentation, appraisals, and tax deductions.
Frequently Asked Questions
If your question is not addressed below, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish to donate an object but I’m not sure if the Museum would be interested—how can I find out?
We are happy to consider many kinds of objects. If you would like to offer us a gift of art, please send us information by submitting the Gifts of Art Inquiry Form. The Museum defines art broadly and collects art from around the world and across time. Our collection includes paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, prints and drawings, photography, textile and fashion arts, jewelry, Judaica, musical instruments, contemporary art, and more.
Please also provide photographs of the objects by replying to the confirmation e-mail with the images attached.
How do I learn how much my art is worth? Could the MFA give me an appraisal?
- The Museum is unable to provide appraisals or valuations of works of art.
- To learn the value of your art, you may find a qualified appraiser by contacting auction houses or one of the many professional organizations of art appraisers. E-mail us at email@example.com to request a list of art appraisal organizations.
- If you wish to claim a tax deduction for gift of art, the IRS has specific guidelines to define qualified appraisals for donated property. We are happy to provide a summary of these requirements upon request, and full details are available on the IRS website.
How will the MFA decide whether to accept my gift of art?
- Curators with the relevant expertise will review the images and information you share. We may follow up to ask for additional detail.
- The curatorial team selects works of art that will make a meaningful addition to the MFA’s existing collections, and that fit with the Museum’s collecting strategy, priorities, and acquisitions policy. Our curators give thoughtful consideration to new acquisitions in relation to our resources to care for and display works of art.
- Due to the number of inquiries we receive, please allow at least 2 to 4 weeks to receive a response.
I don’t have professional photography of my artwork. Is that a problem?
We are happy to review snapshot images. It is helpful if you can provide one view of the entire object, one view of the reverse of the object, and a view of any special details such as the artist’s signature.
In order to provide photographs, please first submit the Gifts of Art Inquiry Form. You will then receive a confirmation e-mail. Please reply to the confirmation e-mail with the images attached.
I have a large collection. Should I send images and details about every item?
For large collections, please share a general description of the collection, such as “About 100 Japanese prints from the Meiji period,” along with 2 to 3 images of selected objects. A collection list or inventory is helpful if available. We may follow up to ask for additional information.
Can I bring my artwork to the Museum for the curators to see it?
Please do not bring your artwork to the Museum without a prior appointment. After our curators have reviewed images and information, we may ask to view objects in person and will make these arrangements individually.
If the Museum wishes to accept my gift, should I ship the artwork to the MFA?
Please do not ship or deliver works of art to the MFA without prior confirmation. The Museum will reach out to you to coordinate plans for packing and shipping artworks as needed.
I would like to leave art to the MFA in my will. How do I go about that?
- We recommend that you contact the Gifts of Art office to share information about the artwork and to discuss whether the MFA will be the right home for the works in the future.
- Consult with your attorney about adding a specific bequest to the MFA in your will. Our recommended wording for making a bequest of art through your will is as follows: I, __________, give and bequeath [description of artwork] to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as an unrestricted gift.
- To discuss options for bequests of large collections or other special considerations, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Museum may be unable to accept bequests of art with restrictions or conditions. If you have questions, please contact email@example.com.
How can I give funds to support the care and preservation of art at the MFA?
- Gifts to the MFA Fund provide vital annual operating support to support our mission. Gifts of all sizes are welcome.
- To designate your MFA Fund gift for Conservation and Collections Care, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You may also wish to consider adding a bequest to the MFA in your will to provide funds for the care and conservation of art collections at the MFA.
Should I make a year-end gift of art in December?
- Logistical challenges for handling gifts of art are greater at the end of the calendar year and there is a chance that the Museum may not be able to accommodate last-minute gifts of art at that time.
- We recommend you contact us no later than October 1 for any gift you hope to complete in the same calendar year.
- There is no special tax benefit for year-end gifts of art; tax deductions are the same for gifts made at any time of year.
If I give my artwork to the MFA, will it always be displayed?
- The Museum cares for a collection of more than 500,000 works of art and frequently changes the works on view in our galleries.
- We are unable to display all the objects in our collection in our physical galleries at all times, but our entire collection is shared with the public through our searchable collections database.
May I set special restrictions or conditions on my gift?
We have learned in our 150-year history that binding restrictions on works of art limit our curators’ capacity to share collections with visitors in new ways over time. Our current policy is that the Museum does not accept restrictions or conditions on gifts of art except under rare circumstances, and that any proposed gift restrictions must be approved by the Board of Trustees’ Committee on the Collection.