Research Tools

The MSU Museum actively champions faculty success by nurturing research collaborations, fortifying teaching and learning endeavors, facilitating professional advancement, and offering opportunities for exhibitions and programming that effectively communicate research to wider audiences. Through these initiatives, the Museum amplifies faculty members’ scholarly pursuits, encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, and robustly contributes to the University’s academic mission.


The MSU Museum is in the process of digitizing our collections to enable broader accessibility.    

Explore our Digitized Cultural and Archaeological Collections

Key areas of the Cultural Collections include:

  • African and African Diasporic
  • Agricultural Heritage and Rural Life
  • Apparel and Textiles
  • History of Everyday Life
  • Michigan Folklife and Traditional Arts
  • MSU History
  • Native American
  • Quilts and Related Textiles

Argus Collections Portal

Inquiries about searching, records, errors encountered or requests for data not appearing online should be directed to the Cultural Collections Manager or Archaeology Collections Manager.

Learn about MSU’s commitment to The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).


Explore our Digitized Natural Science Collections

Global Biodiversity Information Facility


Fish Net 2



These search portals exclude some data, e.g. specimen measurements, field notes, and census records (such as our early 1900s U.S. Biological Survey bird ledgers). Inquiries about searching, records, errors encountered, or requests for data not appearing online should be directed to the Natural Science Collections Manager.

The Natural Science Collections use the Specify Biodiversity Collections Management Database System. Our official acronym is MSU for mammalogy, ornithology, and vertebrate paleontology specimens; and MSUM for herpetology and ichthyology specimens.

The Mammal Research Collection ranks 25th in the Western Hemisphere and is accredited by the American Society of Mammalogists. It includes more than 41,395 specimens, approximately 8,000 of which are from the Great Lakes region. Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador are also well represented. The collection includes skeletons, study skins, skulls, tanned hides, frozen tissues, and fluid-preserved specimens.

The Ornithology Research Collection includes over 14,450 specimens; more than one-third are from Michigan. Also well-represented are Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Brazil. Many of the specimens were part of the original holdings of the Michigan Agricultural College Museum, among them historically important series collected by naturalists Walter B. Barrows and Dillman S. Bullock. The collection includes study skins, skeletons, taxidermy mounts, eggs, nests, and fluid-preserved specimens. Holdings from the MSU Kellogg Bird Sanctuary have been transferred to the MSU Museum.

The Herpetology Research Collection includes over 18,745 reptile and amphibian specimens representing Michigan, Mexico, South America, Africa, and Australia. Significant series were contributed by campus researchers and students. The collection includes fluid-preserved specimens, tanned skins, and over 4,600 skeletons. Vertebrate specimens from the MSU Kellogg Bird Sanctuary are now housed in the MSU Museum’s Research Collections.

The Ichthyology Research Collection includes 8,305 lots containing over 36,125 marine and freshwater specimens. Of the freshwater holdings, more than half are from Michigan, among them 1,100 specimens collected from the Red Cedar River, which flows through campus. Additional noteworthy series were collected in Ecuador, Mexico, and India. Both fluid-preserved specimens and skeletons (over 1,250) are represented.

Vertebrate Paleontology
The Vertebrate Paleontology Research collection includes over 4,200 specimens, approximately 90% of which are from North America. The most significant holdings are Cenozoic amphibians and reptiles from throughout North America, Permian fishes and tetrapods from Texas, and Late Pleistocene faunal remains from the Great Lakes region.

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