Our Collection

Collection Policy

It is the policy of the AWA Museum to collect and preserve only those items that support the mission. More specifically, it is both the hardware and documentation that defines electronic communications of the telegraph, telephone and wireless periods, through and including modern techniques developing today for tomorrow’s use. Items closely supporting the development of communications techniques, such as radio detectors, tubes, solid state devices and other component parts are likewise collection candidates.  

Artifacts that have historical significance or provenance will be given special consideration. Historical significance is defined as an artifact that cannot be duplicated or improved upon.  For example; in the collection is the CW key that sent the SOS from the sinking Morrow Castle passenger liner.  The key itself is just a standard Vibroplex of which we have many far better examples.  The fact that it has this unique history makes it eligible for the collection.

Collection Criteria

Collection criteria are further prioritized as being; primary, secondary and tertiary in nature.  

Primary – Radio receivers and transmitters    

  • Components; tubes, keys and unique items 
  • Documentation depicting historical data, facts and early pioneers 
  • Television and television broadcasting hardware
  • Telegraph and telephone items
  • Material and Documentation to achieve perpetual maintenance of the above items

Secondary – Test Equipment directly related to development or maintenance of primary items

  • Scientific devices directly related to development or maintenance of primary items    
  • Audio and High Fidelity items    
  • Radio and Television Programming; audio tapes, films, scripts, etc.    
  • Documentation not supporting the Primary collection criteria    
  • Material and Documentation to achieve perpetual maintenance of the above items

Tertiary – Electrical items not related to communications; motors, power meters, lamps

  • Documentation not supporting Primary or Secondary criteria, but supporting communications    
  • Material and Documentation to achieve perpetual maintenance of the above items    
  • Collection of duplicates parts for building/maintaining replicas

Collection Management, Artifact Collection Status and Record Keeping

As a museum chartered by the State of New York, the AWA must follow state mandated collection procedures.  As part of the chartering filing, the AWA provided our Board of Trustee approved Museum Policy Manual for Department of Education approval.

As each artifact donation is received, it is assigned a unique gift number.  In recent years, each donated item is bar coded, photographed, and entered into the PastPerfect database. A donation receipt letter is sent to the donor acknowledging the donation(s) and requesting the donor sign and return the letter to AWA.  In the letter, the donor is advised that the donation is to become the unrestricted property of the AWA and may be used, displayed, sold, etc for the benefit of the AWA at its sole discretion.

The item may remain the in the gift status for some time unless the Accession Committee acts to access (formally votes) the artifact to the permanent museum collection. While the artifact is in the gift status, it may be used in any way beneficial to the activities of the Museum as determined by the Curator.  This would also include the sale or trade of the artifact to benefit the Museum and its collection.  To date, all items sold or traded by the Museum have been items in the gift status.

Depending on the nature of the donated item(s), historical significance, uniqueness, value as an artifact in our collection, condition, and similar attributes, the Curator(s) may propose to the Accession Committee that an item be accessed or placed in the permanent collection.  The accessed item is given a unique Accession Number and moved to accessed status in the PastPerfect database.

Once an artifact is formally accessed by action of the Accession Committee, rules of the State of New York require the Museum to protect the ownership of the item.  The AWA deaccessioning rules conform to the Rules of the Board of Regents as amended effective June 8, 2011.  In short, the Museum may only deaccess an item for only one or more of the 10 mandated reasons. 

Moneys received from deaccessioning of any property from the collection will be placed in a restricted fund to be used only for the acquisition, preservation, protection or care of collections.  In no event shall proceeds be used for any other purpose.

Using the Justification for Deaccessioning form, the Curator will recommend that an object be deaccessioned to the Accessioning Committee. Approvals:  The Accessioning Committee is authorized to approve recommendations up to $1,500.  Values greater than $1,500 also need the approval of the Museum Director or a Deputy Director. Upon approval, the object will be disposed of per the deaccessioning procedure.

AWA Museum Policy Manual

The above collection criteria and many of the AWA Museum’s operating policies are contained in the AWA Museum’s Policy Manual.  for those wishing to review that manual and the specific for artifact handling, you may download that document using the button to the right.