Access and Use

Research and Class Visits

Collections are available for onsite research and university class use by appointment only, contingent on staff and space availability. Please schedule a minimum of two weeks prior to your desired visit.

To request a collection visit, please complete the Research Request Form.

Research Request Form

Rights and Reproductions

Materials from the MSU Museum Collections are solely for educational and scholarly uses. The materials may be used in reports, research, and other projects that are not offered for sale.  Granting or withholding of permission for commercial or public use is determined on an individual basis, and a usage fee is required.

All use of materials require written permission from the MSU Museum or appropriate copyright holder. Please contact the appropriate collections manager for the desired materials.

contact Natural science collections manager

contact cultural collections manager

contact archaeology collections manager


Cultural Collections

Loans are made to institutions not individuals. Loan correspondence shall originate from an official representative of the borrowing institution and responses will be made to that individual. The borrowing institution must have facilities to properly house and care for museum objects. Loans are made for a six-month period. The MSU Museum does not issue permanent or indefinite loans.

Please complete the Loan Request Form for objects you wish to borrow. Loans are subject to approval.

Loan Request form

Archaeology Collections

Loans are only issued to institutions for research, education, or exhibition purposes. All requests must be sent in writing via the loan request form and are subject to approval. The borrowing institution must have appropriate facilities to properly house and care for loaned materials. The MSU Museum adheres to the highest standards of patrimony. Collections or materials determined to be NAGPRA-eligible are not available for loan.

Loan request Form

Natural Science Collections

Loans of specimens from the research collections are made only to qualified research investigators (e.g. faculty, curators, and research staff) at institutions with facilities to properly house and care for specimens. Loan requests for students must originate from the student’s major advisor. Invasive procedures (e.g. removal of hair, feathers, muscle, skin, teeth, or bone; dissection; tissue sampling; or removal of fossils from matrix) are not permitted without the express permission of the appropriate curator.

Loan request Form

Research Collections Loan Policy and User Agreement

We issue loans for a six-month period; loans are renewable with curatorial approval if specimens are needed for longer than six months. We do not issue permanent or indefinite loans, and certain categories of specimens are never loaned; these include rare, fragile, unique, and type specimens. In some circumstances, we may decline requests for large series of specimens, or material that is difficult to ship. The borrower must sign and return a copy of the MSU Museum Outgoing Loan Agreement form.

When specimens are returned to MSU, they must be packed in the original MSU loan container, insured for the original amount, and shipped via an approved carrier. Specimen re-identifications or other corrections should be provided upon return of the specimens to MSU Museum. These may be indicated on the loan form copy or in a separate note that references the specimen catalog number.

User Agreement – In accordance with our standard loan policy, the investigator agrees to:

  1. Obtain written permission before transferring material to a third party.
  2. Acknowledge the MSU Museum and its collections in all publications that contain data derived from MSU Museum specimens. (Our official acronym is MSU for mammalogy, ornithology, and vertebrate paleontology specimens; and MSUM for herpetology and ichthyology specimens).
  3. Send electronic copy, book citation, link to abstract, or reprint of published work containing data derived from MSU Museum specimens to the Collections Manager.

Teaching Loan Requests

The MSU Museum Vertebrate Teaching Collections contain over 2,600 cataloged specimens for use in MSU courses. Specimens include study skins, skeletal materials, tanned hides, articulated limbs, horns, antlers, bird mounts in display boxes, nests, eggs, feathers, fossils, casts, models, and microscope slides. We loan teaching specimens to MSU faculty for use in laboratory and lecture classes on campus. Please contact the Collections Manager for information on holdings and availability.

Teaching Loan Request Form

Teaching Collections Loan Policy and User Agreement

Teaching specimens are loaned to campus faculty for short periods (usually one to a few days, depending on class schedule and specimen availability). The borrower is responsible for specimen security and care and must sign and return the MSU Museum Outgoing Loan Agreement form. Materials must be picked up from and returned to the Museum during regular hours. Specimens being returned to the Museum must be packed and returned in the original loan container.

User Agreement—In accordance with our standard loan policy, the borrower agrees to:

  • Not transfer material to a third party
  • Adhere to the following handling guidelines:
    • Do not consume food or drink near or while handling specimens
    • When pointing out structures on specimens, use a blunt probe or other blunt instrument and not a pen, pencil, or tool that will leave marks on specimens
    • Never remove tags or labels from a specimen (tags on specimens used for exams may be covered with folded paper and a paperclip)
    • Bring to the attention of the Collections Manager any specimen parts (e.g. teeth) or tags that have become separated

Publication Acknowledgment

If vertebrate specimen records are used in an analysis, report, or publication, the provenance of the original data should be acknowledged, and any resulting publication or report sent to the Natural Science Collections Manager (digital copies, book citations, and links to abstracts or publications are acceptable).

contact Natural Science COLLECTIONS MANAGER

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