Our Collections

The Science Museum began collecting specimens and artifacts in 1870. Our collections come from the anthropologybiology, and paleontology sciences. In addition to public viewing, they’re also used for research and studies by Science Museum curators and visiting scientists.

Collections Services

The Collections Services Department provides artifacts and specimens, documentation, archival information, and expertise to the museum for exhibits and programs. The department’s mission is to ensure the physical integrity of, protect and maintain the intellectual content for, and provide access to the collections and their documentation for museum staff, outside researchers, and the inquiring public.

For more information, email science@smm.org or call (651) 221-9435.

History of collections at the museum

The tradition of collecting at the Science Museum of Minnesota dates back to 1870 and the Saint Paul Academy of Natural Sciences. In 1907, collections of scientific interest remaining from the Academy were turned over to the early Science Museum, the Saint Paul Institute.

Early collections were exhibited in their entirety in rows of glass cases, a far cry from collections management, storage, and exhibit methods of today. In 1933, the Institute established its scientific departments, and in the following years staff of the museum began to do their own collecting. Archaeological digs in the 1950s and 1970s, yearly paleontological field expeditions starting in 1959, and biological expeditions, especially in the 1970s, yielded many significant specimens. Today, collections are stored systematically in state-of-the-art cabinetry.

The collections—from the disciplines of ethnology, archaeology, biology, and paleontology—are used as the basis for research and scholarly publications by Science Museum curators as well as visiting scientists. The collections also provide further opportunities with members of the scientific community through loans and trades of casts and specimens with other institutions. Museum curators and Collections Services staff work with museum exhibits staff to provide and prepare artifacts and specimens for exhibition.

Meet our staff

Rebecca Newberry, Director of Collections Stewardship
Rebecca is a conservator and leads the Collections Stewardship Department. She monitors the Integrated Pest Management program and the museum’s climate. She develops exhibition, storage, and shipping mounts for the diverse collections. Her conservation interests include Integrated Pest Management, preventive conservation techniques, and ethnographic conservation, focusing on culturally appropriate storage and preservation.

Charlie Iverson, Registar
Charlie is responsible for the care, management, and maintenance of the museum’s collections including registration and records, policies, database management, digitization, and collections use and access.


Learn how the Collections Services Department preserves our collections for scientific research and public display.

Collections Management Policy

View our policy that establishes and documents the guidelines concerning all collections-related activities. 

Loan Request Information

The Science Museum of Minnesota routinely considers loans of items from its collections to museums, educational institutions, and other approved organizations for research or exhibition.

Request to Visit Collections

The museum encourages the access and use of its collection for research, educational, and exhibition purposes. 

Imaging Policies and Procedures

View our policy for use of all suitable images of collections available on the museum’s electronic interfaces.

Oh! No! Ethnobotany

Oh No! Ethnobotany is a hazard communication-training program that addresses health and safety issues inherent in the handling and storage of hazardous ethnobotany.

Science Museum Building

Moving the Museum

Learn the story of the Science Museum of Minnesota's move to a new building.