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Q and A

SPNEA receives many inquiries from visitors to its website, Here are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions.

I'd like to know the value of an object in my possession. Can you please appraise it for me?
While curators often have a good sense of the marketplace, they are not professionally trained to provide valuations of personal property. In fact, because of the potential for a conflict of interest, museums should not be too involved with the appraisal process. There are a number of professional organizations like the Appraisers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers that can assist with selecting the right appraiser. An appraiser should bill the client according to the amount of time it took to inspect, research, and prepare the appraisal; the fee should never be a percentage of the object's value.

While SPNEA cannot provide valuations, we are happy to try to help you identify your family treasures or yard sale finds. If we can't help you, we will try to find someone who can. Simply send a photograph with the object's history to SPNEA Collections Department, 141 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114 Attn: Inquiries.

Appraisers Association of America
386 Park Avenue South, Suite 2000
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 212-889-5404
Fax: 212-889-5503

American Society of Appraisers
555 Herndon Parkway, Suite 125
Herndon, VA 20170
Phone: 703-478-2228
Fax: 703-742-8471

SPNEA's journal, Old-Time New England, is a great resource. Are back issues available?
Old-Time New England contains a wealth of information on New England material culture, and many back issues are still available. If you are interested, please contact the SPNEA Museum Shop at (617) 570-9105, ext. 227. In addition, articles from past issues of Old-Time New England are now being featured on

I would like to photograph the interiors of one of SPNEA's house museums. How do I get permission to do so?
SPNEA receives many requests each year to photograph the interiors of its house museums, and enjoys sharing these locations with others. Because our interiors are original, we take great care to protect them, and each request to photograph is considered individually. Permission is granted based on the site, photographic equipment, intended use of the photographs, and scheduling. If you are interested in photographing an SPNEA property, please submit your request in writing, and include as much detail as possible regarding the location, date and time, equipment you plan to use, and purpose of the photography. Requests should be sent to the Marketing Department at 141 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114.

What is the SPNEA Annual Fund and how is it different from my membership dues?
Annual Fund gifts are in addition to membership dues and are used to support projects and programs at SPNEA. For example, a gift of $100 might fund

  • one panel for a traveling exhibition
  • one month of feed for animals at Casey Farm
  • transportation for schoolchildren to participate in an educational program at one of SPNEA's house museums

Not only does SPNEA depend on the Annual Fund to support a percentage of operations each year, but foundations will look for substantial grass roots support as they review grant proposals. Thus a gift to the Annual Fund supports programs directly, yields greater foundation support,
and will help SPNEA meet the goal of Annual Fund challenge.

What is the Annual Fund challenge?
Recognizing the need for grass roots support, Janet Jainschigg and other longtime friends of SPNEA have pledged a combined gift of $100,000 to match new gifts to the 2000 Annual Fund. That means that every new gift or increased gift to the 2000 Annual Fund will have twice the impact for SPNEA. SPNEA accepts outright gifts of cash and securities; real estate or bequest gifts are also welcome, and a gift to SPNEA through estate planning can provide you or a beneficiary with a source of income while at the same time supporting SPNEA's mission. You can make a gift in memory of a loved one or to commemorate a special occasion, such as a wedding anniversary. Once again, all new and increased contributions to the Annual Fund are eligible to be matched through the 2000 Annual Fund Challenge. For further information, please contact Karen Lockmer, Director of Individual Giving, at 617-570-9105, ext. 250, or at

Q and A