The Code of Ethics written by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) prohibits museum professionals from engaging in appraisal-related activities.
One reason for this guideline is to prevent a potential conflict of interest.
For example, say you have an important quilt in your possession that is quite rare, and valuable. Many museums might be interested in acquiring your quilt. If museums were permitted to provide appraisal values, then it would be possible for a potential donor to “shop around” at various museums to see who would give the highest appraisal value, and therefore get the quilt.
The Code of Ethics prevents this kind of behavior by barring museum professionals from getting involved in appraisals.
Many museums do not have an acquisitions budget, so the staff may not be well-informed on the value of artifacts. Many rely on the generosity of donors, who may or may not provide an appraisal value when they donate an artifact. It is best to contact an appraiser directly, who has the relevant information and resources to provide an accurate appraisal value for your artifact.
It is also important to understand that an appraisal value for insurance purposes may not be the same as a resale value. Remember, at auction a price can only be driven up if two people keep bidding!
Please contact one of the following groups for appraiser recommendations. They will be able to direct you to someone in your area, or to someone who specializes in the types of objects you would like to have appraised.
International Society of Appraisers
Riverview Plaza Office Park
16040 Christensen Road Suite 102
Seattle, WA 98188-2929
American Society of Appraisers
555 Herndon Parkway, Suite 125
Herndon, VA 20170
Phone: (703) 478-2228
Fax: (703) 742-8471
The Appraisers Association of America
386 Park Avenue South, Suite 2000
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 889 5404
Fax: (212) 889 5503