Public Auction & Sale

The Port Huron Museum is hosting a Public Auction, featuring the Estate of Bessie I. Mueller (Mueller Brass Co.). Proceeds will go to the preservation and care of the Museum’s collection. 
The Port Huron Museum (PHM) is inviting the public to an auction of items from its collection on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The auction will take place at the Carnegie Center Museum, 1115 6th Street, Port Huron, Michigan at 10:00am. There will be a previews September 12th – 14th, Noon – 4:00pm, September 15th Noon-8pm, and on Saturday, September 16, 9:00am – 10:00am.
The pieces being sold have no special significance to the history of St. Clair County or duplicate what is already in the Museum’s collection, or donated to benefit this sale.
Money raised from the auction can only be used to buy or conserve artifacts that enhance the PHM’s mission of preserving the history of the region and state.
The auction will feature a diverse array of items including china, crystal, furniture, vases, art, tribal art, pottery, books, and much more.
For more information, please contact us at (810) 982-0891.


Frequently Asked Questions
How many items does the Port Huron Museum have?
The last update to our database showed that we have over 15,000 documented objects, books, archival material, and photographs. These donated items have accrued over the 48 years this building has been a museum, and includes some of the artifacts from the original library’s collection.

Does the Museum own the collections?
The Museum does own the majority of its collections, although a relative handful of items are on loan. Items on loan to us are cared for by the museum, but they are still under the ownership of the original owners.

How does the Museum store the collections?
When not on exhibit, items are kept on site, in storage. This room, though in need of updating and repairs, is locked and accessible only by museum personnel. This is to ensure the safety of our visitors and the security of our objects.

What is the state of the collection now?
The organization of the collection is an ongoing task, as it is with any museum, especially with any museum dealing with multiple items collected over nearly a half-century.  We review, identify, clean, and catalog every item in our care, matching each item with any related paperwork or other records. The museum’s Collections Committee works with museum staff members in this effort. The process is neither quick nor easy, given the scope of the collection, and the often tedious need to carefully research and assess each piece. The committee is made up of local volunteers, working with a small but committed museum staff.

What does the organizing process entail?
We look at each object, book, photograph, and so on, assessing its condition, age, significance and rarity. In doing so, we follow assessment guidelines similar to those used internationally at public and private museums large and small. Items are individually cataloged and their records are updated. In some cases, items that do not meet these guidelines may be considered for deaccessioning.

What is deaccessioning?
When a museum accepts items into the collection, the items are “accessioned” into the museum inventory. Deaccessioning is the process of removing items from the collection. This is a deliberate process done with respect and following generally accepted museum ethics practices. By determining an object’s condition and historical significance, we can decide whether it meets the museum’s mission. If the museum is unable to keep it, we search for other possible museums or similar nonprofit agencies that may provide it with a more appropriate home. If no other institution can be identified, the museum can consider selling the item through public auction and use the proceeds in caring for the rest of the collections. Finally, if an object is without provenance (the “story” behind the item that can determine its significance), is not aligned with the museum’s purpose, or simply beyond repair, the museum has the obligation to dispose of the object.

How does the donation process work?
Donors give up all future claims on the donated item, transferring total ownership to the museum. Documentation of each donation is still retained by the Museum, including the records of deaccessioned items. The Museum reserves the right to do with donated items as it sees fit, contingent on its mission statement and policies governing its collections. Donors may inquire about a specific item, but it is against standard museum policy to return items to the donor or their heirs. It is with this understanding that we are able to constantly assess and consistently maintain our overall collection.

Do you have other questions?
As always, the Port Huron Museum strives to provide transparency for our public. Rest assured that we are responsibly and ethically attending to our collection, providing a source of education and enlightenment to our community and visitors. Questions may be directed to museum staff during regular business hours.