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The City of Edmonton Heritage Collection represents the stories, people and activities of Edmonton.

Donate Artifacts

Do you have a treasured item in your home that you think might be a good addition to the City of Edmonton Heritage Collection? We would like to hear from you.

  • Email cms.artifacts@edmonton.ca 
    • List the items 
    • Include any information you know about where and how you got the items
    • Attach photographs of the items, if you have them

Or

  • Telephone 780-496-1490 to speak to a curator about your items

About the Collection

About Us 

The City of Edmonton Heritage Collection has over 60,000 artifacts. These artifacts can be found on exhibit at the John Walter Museum, Fort Edmonton Park, on loan to other museums and collections, and in storage at the City of Edmonton Artifacts Centre. 

The Artifacts Centre

The Artifacts Centre is the home location for the Heritage Collection. It is a storage facility that is not open to the public. However, the collection is available for research purposes upon request. Please contact us for more information. 

Artifacts are generally, three-dimensional objects made or altered by humans. If you’re looking for archival documents (photographs, paper records, audio/visual recordings) please visit the City of Edmonton Archives

Close-up view of several old wooden chairs on display.

History of the City of Edmonton Heritage Collection

The City Heritage Collection began in 1958 when the Edmonton Historical Board and the Northern Alberta Pioneers and Descendants Association agreed to establish a cooperative museum called the Historic Exhibits Building.

The foundation of the collection is formed from a donation of approximately 600 artifacts from the Northern Alberta Pioneers and Descendants Association, and the purchase of over 7000 artifacts from the Great Northwest Pioneer Village that was in nearby Stony Plain. 

In 1973, the displays at the Historic Exhibits Building closed, though the building it was in continued to house the City of Edmonton Archives. In 1974, the 1846 Fort at Fort Edmonton Park opened. The artifact collection was stored at the old Cromdale bus barns until 1976. That year, the collection moved to the recently vacated O’Keefe Brewery, where it remains to this day. From 1976 on, this storage facility has been known as the Artifacts Centre.

What We Collect

In the 1970s and early 1980s, collecting focused on finding artifacts for the displays at Fort Edmonton Park and John Walter Museum. Consequently, we mostly collected artifacts from before 1929, and which focused on the buildings at these sites. As a result, we have many artifacts that are household goods, business equipment, furniture, tools, and to a lesser extent vehicles, textiles, and product packages. 

In addition, the Artifacts Centre collects gifts to the mayor and councillors, and items significant to the history of Edmonton, for example, artifacts from the 1978 Commonwealth Games. 

Why we collect and what we collect continues to change. We want to use community engagement practices, the Art of Inclusion and the Facets of Sustainability to help us decide the future of our collection. 

How We Collect 

Most artifacts come from donations by individuals or groups. Sometimes we buy artifacts to enhance our historical displays.  

We make records and track all of our artifacts and artifact donations in paper and digital files. 

Why We Collect

Why Do We Collect Things?  

I collect rocks. When I am traveling, I always keep my eye out for what I think is the perfect rock to take back home with me. I am always careful in my selection and only ever take one. Colour, patterns and most importantly how it feels in the palm of my hand become my method of selection. The significance is about the feel of the rock and how it acts as a physical reminder of a special moment in time. I will take that chosen rock home with me and place it in a special cookie tin that holds my collection. I do not look at the collection often but when I do, I can still associate a specific place or memory with each rock and those that I can not, I still appreciate them for their esthetic qualities and wonder why it was chosen. Those rocks are a physical touchstone and serve as a marker to my landscape of memories.

There are many kinds of collections — hockey cards, cars, books, figurines, stuffed animals, shells — the list is as long as there are objects to collect. There are many ways people care for and organize their collections. Objects provide connection to ideas, people, memories, places. You can collect for pleasure, to leave something behind, to make money, or to learn something.

Why Does the City of Edmonton Collect Objects?

We collect for many of the same reasons that people do. But we do it on a larger scale. And we do it on behalf of the citizens of Edmonton, so we have different responsibilities for managing and taking care of it.

Ultimately it shows us what we think matters. The process by which society as a whole determines which objects are kept or not kept, which stories are re-told and which fade away, is the making of traditions.

A collection of vintage lard tins on a shelf.

For More Information

City of Edmonton Heritage Collection

Telephone

780-496-1490

Email cms.artifacts@edmonton.ca

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