For descriptions of selected, significant discrete collections, go to
Access and use
Inquiries about research visits, object loans, use of photographs, and requests for data not appearing online (see below links) should be directed to the Cultural Collections Manager.
History and general description
The MSU Museum's cultural holdings are the tangible--and sometimes the only--evidence of humankind's existence throughout the world and through time. Included are materials that are hundreds of years old and those made recently; handmade and mass-produced items; cultural objects from around the world with a special emphasis on Michigan and the Great Lakes; and unique, one-of-a-kind items and collections that cannot be found in any other repository in the world. Some are accompanied by extensive documentation and associated information; others are primary source materials that will enable scholarly research.
A variety of methodologies have been used by different practitioners at different times to collect, describe, classify, and analyze the objects in the collections and the collections provide rich primary source material for multi-, cross-, and interdisciplinary studies; for specific disciplines such as art, art history, folklore, anthropology, archaeology, and history; and for new areas of studies such as object-based learning and visual literacy.
Some holdings have emanated from major faculty and staff research or educational initiatives-some in partnership with other institutions-and often responding to community-based needs; other holdings have been carefully acquired to strengthen the capacity of the collection to be used for teaching, research, and exhibition activities. Some collections are built, used, supported, and/or managed in collaboration with other university and state entities:
- The archaeology collections are affiliated with MSU's Consortium for Archaeological Research, a cluster of individuals from a variety of university departments representing multiple disciplinary interests in the development of research and educational activities that further an understanding of the past.
- The Michigan Traditional Arts Research Collection of objects, taped interviews, field notes, and photographs relating to folklife provides the only major state resource on this subject and is affiliated with the Michigan Traditional Arts Program, a statewide partnership program with Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
- The quilt collections are affiliated with the Great Lakes Quilt Center, an Alliance for American Quilts' Regional Center for the Quilt.
- The 4-H collections are affiliated with the Michigan State University Extension.
- The Agricultural Heritage Collections are affiliated with the Michigan State University Extension and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- The Michigan Heritage Basket Collection is affiliated with the 2000 member, statewide Association of Michigan Basketmakers.
Support for cultural collections care, conservation, and use is provided by Michigan State University, state and federal granting agencies, annual fundraisers, private donations, and several endowments, including the Harriet Clarke Endowment, the Anne Longman Endowment, the Kitty Clark Cole Endowment, the Great Lakes Traditions Endowment, the Michigan Quilt Project Endowment, the Betty A. MacDowell/Michigan Stained Glass Endowment, and the Avery/Kimes/Stier History Endowment Fund.
Guidelines and forms
Guidelines on using cultural materials
Michigan Tradtional Arts Program fieldwork guidelines
Path to Archives
Research Request Form
Media Request Form
Loan Request Form
Rights and Reproduction Statement
Monetary Donation Form
MSUM Use Agreement
Michigan Traditional Arts Program Consent Form*
Michigan Traditional Arts Program Professional Ethics Form