A museum or historical society with collections that wishes to organize as a nonprofit private education corporation must do so by petitioning the Board of Regents for the issuance of a charter. A charter is granted by the Board of Regents as an instrument of incorporation to a museums and historical societies with collections that satisfy Regents standards of organizational and educational quality. These standards are consistent with professionally accepted principles and practices as adopted by the American Alliance of Museums and the American Association for State and Local History. To achieve them usually takes a period of development. For that reason chartering is a two-step process, from provisional to absolute charter. Museums and historical societies with collections are organized by people who have responsibility for collections of artistic, scientific and historical objects, or the desire to acquire such collections, and the potential or actual resources to preserve them. Since the collections are the principal assets of museums and historical societies with collections, the primary concern of any group organizing museums and historical societies with collections is to safeguard the existing collections and those to be acquired.
Since the primary obligation of museums and historical societies with collections is to assemble, preserve and interpret its collections, the housing of the collection is of the utmost importance. The organizing committee must determine if it has an adequate facility or the resources to acquire the space necessary to assemble, catalog, preserve and exhibit its collections. There must be room not only for exhibitions, but environmentally sound and secure space to store that portion of the collections not on exhibit.
After museums or historical societies with collections have organized, it may wish to incorporate. Most important of the many advantages of incorporation is that museums and historical societies with collections becomes a legal entity. Title to the organization's collections is held in the name of the organization. It is thus protected from falling into the hands of the individual trustees in the event the museum or historical society with collections should dissolve.
Another important advantage of incorporation is that it makes museums and historical societies with collections eligible to apply to the United States Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit, tax exempt education corporation under Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This is important to an organization, because money raised from admission charges or gifts would otherwise be considered taxable income. The exemption also encourages financial contributions and donations to the collections since donors may deduct the donation from their personal income tax.
Finally, incorporation by the Board of Regents gives museums and historical societies with collections the prestige and recognition of being a member of The University of the State of New York.
8 NYCRR 3.27 defines the regulations set for organizations that petition the NY Board of Regents for both the provisional and the absolute charter.