Researching Your Artwork FAQ

Q: Can someone at MAG tell me how much my artwork is worth?
A: Unfortunately, no. The Tax Reform Act of 1984 bars museums and other donee organizations from providing appraisals for a donor’s tax-deductible object. If you are donating a work of art to the Gallery, it is your responsibility to obtain an appraisal. Below is a website for the Appraisers Association of America where you can locate an appraiser in your area who can answer your questions. You can also visit the Gallery’s Charlotte Whitney Allen Library for more information or a list of internet resources.

If you do not need a certified appraisal for donation or insurance purposes but are just curious, the Charlotte Whitney Allen Library and Teacher Resource Center is a good place to start. Bring in a photograph of your artwork and use the auction catalogs, internet and other resources to estimate the value of your object.

Q: Can someone at MAG clean an artwork that I own?
A: MAG does not have anyone on staff that can clean or repair artwork for the public. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works website has a tool to help locate conservators in your area. Go to the AIC’s website and click the “find a professional” button.

Q: How should I take care of my artwork?
A: There are several resources on the internet that provide information on how to care for various types of materials.

Q: How can I find out more about a painting that I own?
A: Take a photograph of the piece and bring it to our art library, which is open to the public by appointment. The Charlotte Whitney Allen Library and Teacher Resource Center, located at MAG on the third floor of the Cutler Union building has a large collection of art books, magazines, auction catalogs, reference books and artist files as well as skilled library staff to guide your research.

Q: How can I find out if my “Picasso” is authentic?
A: While the staff at MAG does not have the authority to authenticate works of art, the art library, open to the public by appointment, is a great place to start. The library has publications about many artists which are available for your use. Also, the librarians may be able to help you determine the leading scholars studying an artist’s work or if there is a foundation that may be able to determine the authenticity of a work. They can also guide you in determining the provenance of your painting (the history of ownership). Bring in a photograph and use the library’s collections to study the artist’s work to see if it is stylistically comparable. A final step might be compositional analysis, which would be done by a conservator (

Q: Can I buy or sell work at the Memorial Art Gallery? Is it a commercial gallery?
A: No. MAG is an accredited not-for-profit public art museum. The name ‘Memorial Art Gallery’ was chosen in remembrance of James G. Averell, son of founder Emily Sibley Watson. He died in his mid-twenties of typhoid fever.

If you still have questions, please email [email href=””][/email].