Collections Management Policy

Ethical and Legal Issues
Found in Collections
Care and Conservation
Use and Access
Exhibits and Interpretation
Incoming Loans
Unclaimed Loans
Outgoing Loans
Culturally Sensitive Materials
Review of Policy

Appendix A - Procedures for Compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)
Appendix B - Definitions for Collections Management
Appendix C - Imaging Policy
Appendix D - Conditions Governing Loans to the Science Museum of Minnesota
Appendix E - Conditions Governing Loans from the Science Museum of Minnesota
Appendix F - Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Policy


The Collections Management Policy establishes and documents the Science Museum of Minnesota’s policies and guidelines concerning all collections related activities.  The Collections Management Policy, hereafter referred to as the Policy, deals with all major aspects of collections stewardship, which is the careful, sound, and responsible management of that which is entrusted to the care of the Science Museum of Minnesota, hereafter referred to as the Museum. Collections are held in trust for the public and are made accessible for the public’s benefit.

Mission, Vision, Values


We exist to...
Turn on the science: Inspire learning. Inform policy. Improve lives.


We envision...
A world in which all people have the power to use science to make lives better.


We value...
Collaboration: We get the job done together.

Equity: We reject oppressive norms and practice authentic inclusion to achieve collective liberation.

Learning: We are curious and take risks to grow.

Statement of Collections

The Museum amasses collections through donations, purchases, and as the material documentation of scientific investigations. They are an invaluable resource for future scientific research and education, and they create a tangible link between our audiences and the world. Physical and intellectual access to the Museum's collections is integral to its mission. This Policy defines the parameters that allow the Museum to strike a balance between maintaining the collections in the best possible condition while encouraging their use in furthering our understanding of the world’s natural history and cultural heritage.

Scope of collections

The Museum houses and maintains permanent, accessioned collections of objects that are preserved and managed for research, exhibition, and education. The permanent collections include artifacts and specimens from the disciplines of ethnology, archaeology, biology and paleontology. The ethnology collection contains artifacts from cultures worldwide, with an emphasis American Indian, Hmong, and Mexican material culture. The archaeology collection has a primary focus in regional and North American Indian artifacts. The biology collection is primarily regional in scope with strengths in small mammals, birds, butterflies, freshwater mollusks, and marine shells. The paleontology collection represents regional and global vertebrate collections with primary emphasis on dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles and fish.

The Museum also maintains education collections consisting of objects used for hands-on education and exhibition. A certain amount of wear and tear, or even eventual destruction, is to be expected. These objects are not accessioned and do not require the same procedures as the permanent collection. Addition or removal of objects for the education collections is at the discretion of Curators, Collections Managers, and other Museum staff.


This section of the Policy summarizes the responsibilities of the governing authority, relevant committees, and staff to document the collections and oversee their use in research and education while preserving them for the future.

The Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for the preservation and protection of the permanent collection. They have ultimate fiduciary responsibility and insure that all activities and programs are consistent with the mission.

The President, as chief executive of the Museum, is directly accountable to the Board for the overall administration and management of the Museum. As such, the President is responsible for the effective custody and administration of the Museum’s collections and the implementation of the Collections Management Policy.

The responsibility of the Center of Research and Collections (CRC) is to provide vision, context, and content for science at the Museum through the support and conduct of scholarly research, and through the appropriate acquisition, management, care, and presentation of collections.

The Chair of The Center of Research and Collections oversees curatorial, collections, and conservation staff who are tasked with the day-to-day management of the Museum’s collection.

The Collections Department ensures the physical integrity of, protects and maintains the intellectual content for, and provide access to the collections and their documentation for museum staff, outside researchers, and the public.

The Curators’ primary responsibility is the integrity and strategic growth of the permanent collections. This responsibility includes collecting, curation, scholarly research, and exhibit and program consultation.

The Conservator applies science to the technical study, preservation, and treatment of Museum collections. Following a risk management-based preventive conservation approach the Conservator monitors environmental conditions, manages pest control, and advises on using appropriate materials and handling techniques to mitigate object deterioration. The Registrar is responsible for managing centralized collection records pertaining to the objects for which the Museum has assumed responsibility.

The Registrar audits collection activities and ensures documented compliance within the Museum of all policies, procedures, professional standards and legislation pertaining to collections. They also develop, update, and implement policies and procedures pertaining to the acquisition, management, and disposition of collections.

Collections Managers manage specific collections by providing access and day-to-day care. This includes preserving, documenting, sorting, identifying, and maintaining the collections.

The Accessions Committee is managed by the Registrar and is composed of the Chair of the CRC, the heads of each curatorial department, the Conservator, the Registrar, and other staff as requested. The Accessions Committee reviews criteria and makes recommendations for accessions, deaccessions, and revisions to collections-related policies. All Committee actions require a majority vote of the standing members of the Committee. The Committee meets quarterly to discuss, approve, and make recommendations regarding collections issues to the President.


The Museum works to ensure that collections held in its care and stewardship support its mission and public trust responsibilities.  The Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers abide by the Museum’s Code of Ethics, the American Alliance of Museums Code of Ethics (2000), and other appropriate standards and codes of ethics established by professional disciplines.

The Museum has a unique obligation to its collections and the value that they hold for society. The ethical obligation of the Museum is to apply the appropriate high standard of stewardship. As such, the Museum manages, maintains, and conserves objects in its ownership or care according to the best practices and standards of the discipline they represent.


Protection of habitats/sites

The Museum does not actively collect or accept collections that have knowingly involved the unnecessary destruction of habitats and sites, or if such collecting activity negatively impacts the existence of a given population that is endangered or threatened.  In all actions, the Museum and its Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers must act ethically and responsibly with the goal of preserving and guarding the biological and cultural heritage of the world.


The Museum does not knowingly acquire any object whose ownership in this state or country is questionable.  Museum employees authorized to acquire objects for the permanent collections  reasonably ensure that clear and legal title can be transferred to and obtained by the Museum and accomplish through due diligence that the title is clear and valid.  Competing claims of ownership that are asserted in connection with objects in its custody are handled openly, seriously, responsively and with respect for the dignity of all parties involved.


The Museum does not knowingly or willfully accept or acquire any object illegally imported into or illegally collected in the United States. Due diligence is pursued to ensure that items considered for acquisition have been collected and imported in full compliance with the laws and regulations of the federal government of the United States and of the individual states. All items collected in foreign countries must also have been obtained in compliance with the laws of those countries. Confiscated objects offered to the Museum by the proper authority may be accessioned by the Museum if they meet accession criteria.

Ethical acquisition

The Museum does not acquire materials that were alienated unethically from their country or culture of origin. The Museum seeks alternative disposition of any such items that come into, or are discovered in, the museum’s physical custody.  The Museum will not accept any object whose circumstance of collection is unethical or contrary to the goals and good practices of the Museum or the museum profession in general.

Standards of Care

No material should be acquired for which the Museum cannot guarantee proper and permanent care.

Cultural sensitivities

The Museum will seek to mitigate--wherever practicable, and in line with the Museum’s mission and governing principles--all conflicts between standard museum practice and the specific sensitivities and cultural needs of descendant communities. Under the general term of “traditional care,” these strategies may include, but are not limited to, specific storage arrangements, posted advisories, and community access for cultural use.


The Museum does not acquire any object that would violate the conditions of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) as it pertains to North American Indians. For further detail see Procedures for Compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (Appendix A).

Availability of Collections

The public, in whose trust the collections are maintained, must have reasonable access to the collections on a nondiscriminatory basis.  The Museum ensures that access to the collections and related information is permitted and regulated within guidelines presented in its Collections Management Policy and in compliance with national standards.

Personal Gain

Upon entering a relationship with the Museum, the Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers must refrain from any collecting activities in competition with the Museum. Care must be exercised to assure that no conflict, or appearance of conflict, arises with the Museum.  The Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers must not personally compete with the Museum for acquisitions in which the Museum has an interest. They may not use their museum affiliation to promote their personal collecting activities. In all situations, the Museum’s formally and specifically stated collecting needs take precedence over those of the individual.  Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers must never abuse their Museum affiliation. Collections are not available to any individual for personal use, either on or off the premises, or for any other purpose contrary to the Museum’s mission and purpose.

Appraisals and ID


Staff do not provide the public with monetary appraisals for objects.  Internal monetary appraisals may be made by staff for loans, insurance, and other purposes related to museum function.  Appraisals required for tax deduction purposes are the responsibility of the donor.


Staff may assist the general public with identification of objects and suggest additional research sources, but do not provide a written estimate of authenticity. Neither staff nor the Museum are liable for informal statements concerning the authenticity of objects.


No person associated with the Museum, nor any representative or relative of such a person, may acquire an object deaccessioned from the Museum.  These representatives may not directly or personally gain or benefit from object deaccessions.

All funds realized from the sale of objects are placed in a restricted account reserved for acquisition of collections per professional standards set forth by the American Alliance of Museums. The Accessions Committee maintains oversight of the fund.


Found In Collections (FIC) objects can be similar in type and quality to the Permanent Collection, but are found in collections storage areas with no museum number, nor any obvious characteristics associating them to any original documentation.

FIC objects also include undocumented, unsolicited gifts dropped off at the museum or mailed to the museum.

FIC objects are described, labeled, and tracked by the Registrar.  While in the Museum’s possession, FIC objects are cared for in the same manner as objects in the collections, but are stored separately as much as possible to avoid or limit any confusion between formally processed objects and FICs.

The Museum follows notification and claim regulations outlined by Minnesota Statute 345.73 of the Minnesota Museum Property Act, entitled Acquiring Title to Undocumented Property (

Should the Museum wish to retain ownership of an FIC object, it may be accessioned into the collection following current accessioning procedures, though such objects must be designated as “Found in Collection.”  Documentation of all attempts to contact the original owner are be maintained permanently in the accession file, as well as copies of all public notices and/or subsequent paperwork relating to it.

Should the Museum decide to dispose of an FIC object, it is evaluated, recommended for removal, and disposed of following current deaccessioning procedures.  Documentation of the entire process is be maintained in a Found in Collections file.


The Science Museum of Minnesota defines accessioning as the formal process used to legally accept and to record an object as a permanent collections item. It involves the creation of an immediate and permanent record using a control number or unique identifier for objects added to the permanent collections from the same source at the same time, and for which the institution accepts custody, rights, or title. The documentation includes how the material was acquired, its provenance, and all subsequent transactions.

Priorities for Accessions

First Priority
Accessions that strengthen collections areas in which the Museum has a current specialization and historical interest, especially when these areas are threatened by the activities of nature, human habitation, or cultural change (see Scope of Collections section above).

Second Priority
Accessions that broaden the comparative base of our collections areas, especially when these materials strengthen a previously established collection, or where they intersect with the interests of our key users and audiences.

Criteria for Accessions

The museum evaluates all accession proposals on a case-by-case basis using the following criteria:

  • Object is relevant to the Museum’s mission and within the Scope of Collections.

  • Object contributes to the Museum’s research, exhibition, and/or education priorities. 

  • The Museum intends to keep the object in the collection for the foreseeable future. 

  • Object does not pose a threat to the safety of the public, staff, or other collections items beyond the ability of the staff and facilities to manage. 

  • The Museum is able to provide professional standards of management, care, and accessibility for the object. 

  • Documentation of clear and legal title exists, including a legal instrument of conveyance, setting forth an accurate description of the objects involved and the precise condition of transfer of ownership. 

  • Objects must be free of any restrictions or conditions, an exception to which is made only in extraordinary circumstances in consultation with legal counsel. 

  • Objects subject to copyright are accompanied by documentation of the transfer of copyrights or by documentation identifying copyright status as long as such status is acceptable for the Museum.

  • Objects have been collected, acquired, imported or exported in full compliance with the laws and regulations of the country or countries of origin, the federal government of the United States, and individual states within the United States. 

  • Objects must have documentation of origin, provenance, previous ownership, and circumstances of acquisition by owner or adequate accounting of such as determined by the Accessions Committee.

Approval Procedures

Any members of the Accessions Committee may propose materials for accessioning.  The Accessions Committee weighs the Criteria for Accessions and makes recommendations.  Final approval of the accession follows contract approval guidelines as determined by the Board of Trustees.


When an object is accepted as part of the Museum’s permanent collection, it is accessioned by completing the documentation and assigning a unique accession number. An accession number is assigned to a collection acquired from a single source at one time. All permanent collection items acquired by the Museum are formally accessioned.

A legal instrument of conveyance or contract setting forth an adequate description of the items involved and the precise conditions of transfer, should accompany all accessions and should be kept on file at the Museum. This document should be signed by the seller or donor, or their legal representative, and by an authorized Museum representative.

Reporting Accessions

Accessions are reported annually to the Board of Trustees.


Documentation records form an integral part of an object’s history and are of primary importance in understanding the object. Records also provide the means by which the Museum establishes its right to legally retain objects.

Collection objects are documented as accurately and fully as possible using professional standards and procedures as established by Curators, Collections Managers, the Registrar, and the Conservator. Careful and explicit record keeping allows the Museum to know an object’s provenance, provenience, condition, location, use, legal status and to systematically classify and catalog objects.

Activities associated with collections are carefully documented including accessions, deaccessions, dispositions, and incoming and outgoing loans.

It is the policy of the Museum to maintain accurate, timely, secure, and complete records. Paper records are an integral part of the collections records and are be maintained in a stable and secure environment with controlled access.

The Museum maintains a centralized electronic collections management system (CMS). As with paper records, the CMS contains collection information that must be maintained in perpetuity. The Museum Technology department of the Museum is responsible for ensuring that the CMS is backed up on a frequent and regular basis and that a recent copy is kept in cloud storage. 

The Museum's CMS records and maintains information about objects in the Museum’s collections, including provenance, use, location, condition, accession status, and descriptive attributes. In addition to the details of objects in the collections, the CMS is the Museum’s database of record for information about accessions, conservation treatments, loans, and deaccessions. 

A select subset of non-sensitive information recorded is shared online with the public via collections portals.


Inventory is the physical verification of the presence, location, and condition of the objects for which the Museum has assumed responsibility.

The Registrar oversees a spot check inventory of randomly selected objects on an annual basis. Major sectional collections inventories are determined by cataloging and digitizing initiatives.

Inventory results are reconciled with previous records by the Collections Department. The Registrar investigates any inconsistencies in these records and documents any objects deemed to be significantly altered or missing.


The Museum is conservative in its approach to the conservation and preservation of its collections, being always aware of their research potential. It recognizes that preventive conservation is the most effective means of promoting the long-term preservation of its collections without jeopardizing this potential. To this end, the principles of preventive conservation guide all conservation and preservation activities. 


The Museum maintains collections in storage and on exhibit according to guidelines laid out by professional organizations such as American Institute for Conservation, Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, National Park Service, and the Canadian Conservation Institute. Storage is in compliance with all State and Federal regulations, including NAGPRA.

Museum-quality steel cabinetry and shelving house most of the collection. The Conservator oversees collections storage mount fabrication and storage systems using inert materials. They conduct Oddy tests on new materials to ensure collections are protected from chemical pollutants.

Fluid preserved collections are stored in a specially designed room that ensures the safety of those collections and meets the approval of local fire officials and current regulations.


The HVAC system allows tight humidity control (+/- 2% in storage, +/- 5% in labs and galleries) in Collections Storage, the Science Corridor Labs, and two of the exhibit galleries. The Facilities Department oversees the automated systems. The Conservator monitors the climate with dataloggers in critical areas. Passive climate controlled cases protect sensitive objects in areas lacking tight humidity control.


Housekeeping is an important aspect of collections care. Regular cleaning reduces the risk of pest infestation. Museum custodians clean the floors in the labs and storage on a weekly basis. The Collections Department dusts objects on open display at least one time per year, with additional cleaning performed as necessary.

Pest Control

The Museum uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as a primary line of defense against infestations (See Appendix F, Integrated Pest Management Policy).


When non-intervention is not an option and the treatment of an object is necessary, the primary goal is stabilization. Object treatments are done in accordance with American Institute for Conservation ethics and in consultation with Curators. The choice of materials and methods of treatment used is dictated by their appropriateness for a specific object and by balancing their advantages against their potential adverse effects on the future well-being, scientific investigation and treatment of that object. All treatments are undertaken by the Conservator or by trained staff under the Conservator's supervision. Appropriate documentation accompanies all treatments. These records are maintained in the Records Room and in the Museum’s database.

Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning

The Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for Collections guides staff preparation and response to harmful events that can damage collections such as fire, flood, theft and vandalism. The plan coordinates with the institution-wide SMM Emergency Procedures Plan and is reviewed every two years. The plan is available to all staff on the Safety and Security Hub on the Museum’s intranet.


The Conservator and the Registrar jointly develop procedures covering the use and handling of collections. All individuals given permission to handle collections undergo training by appropriate CRC staff. The goal of this training is to ensure the safety of the collections as well as the staff.

Long Range Conservation Plan

The Long Range Conservation Plan spells out preventive conservation and preservation priorities for a three-year period. The plan guides departmental planning and coordination with other CRC work plans. It is reviewed and updated every three years.


Collections physical access

The Museum provides reasonable and responsible access to its permanent collections for purposes such as research, exhibit, and education.  The type and conditions of such use must be consistent with the Museum's mission and responsibility for care and preservation of its collections.

Access is by appointment and approval is subject to established or special procedures necessary to safeguard the objects, physical restrictions related to space and facilities, and the availability of appropriate staff. 

Access approval process

Requests for access to collection objects are submitted to the Registrar and reviewed by the appropriate Curator or Collections Manager.  Curators and Collections Managers review the requests on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration risk to objects or specimens, research goals, and resources available for supervision.  Access must be pre-approved by Curators or Collections Managers, and follow the specific procedures of individual collections. 

When on site

Collections use must be conducted under the direct supervision of a CRC staff member approved by the appropriate Curator or Collections Manager. CRC staff are responsible for ensuring the proper handling of specimens.

Possible restrictions

Access to collections and collections information may be restricted due to resource limitations, security, object availability, cultural sensitivity, intellectual property rights, legal and ethical concerns, loan agreements, intellectual property rights, and preservation constraints.

The Museum reserves the right to restrict access to sensitive information such as identity of donors, valuations, storage locations, or locality data.


The Museum has an Open Access policy for all suitable images of SMM collections (see Appendix C, Imaging Policy).


Written requests must be made for the production of casts and replicas of collections held by the Museum. Curators, the Conservator, Collections Managers, and the Registrar consider the requests on a case-by-case basis. All casts and replicas are documented by the Registrar. The Museum does not grant exclusive rights to reproductions.


Requests for destructive scientific analysis must be submitted to the Registrar and approved by the Curator, Conservator, and Collections Manager. Destructive techniques that consume an entire accessioned object follow the guidelines set forth for Deaccessioning in the Collections Management Policy. In the case of destructive analysis of culturally sensitive materials and human remains, approval must also be granted by the appropriate tribe and/or authority.


Curators, Collections Managers, and the Registrar work together to maintain accurate documentation of the use and access of the collections.


CRC staff including Curators, the Conservator, Collections Managers, and the Registrar act as advisory members of exhibit planning and production teams to ensure long-term collections preservation and accurate content for projects using collections. Exhibit labels for collections must include their unique identifier, such as catalog or loan number.


The Museum may accept objects on loan from other institutions or individuals for purposes of research, education, or exhibition.  All loaned objects must meet the Museum’s own ethical guidelines concerning licit collection, chain of custody, import and export.


Staff members requesting objects from another institution or an individual must supply a written request to the Registrar for approval by Curators, the Conservator, and Collections Managers.  The staff member negotiating the loan provides the Registrar with the information needed to complete loan agreements with the lender.


The Museum does not borrow objects that are known to have been collected or imported in violation of state, federal or international restrictions, or which may otherwise place the Museum in a compromising legal or ethical position.\

The Museum does not accept loaned material that represents a hazard to the collections or staff of the Museum, or fails to conform to local, state, or federal law.

The Museum borrows only those objects that it can adequately care for in a manner consistent with the care of its own collection.


The terms and conditions governing all incoming loans are negotiated in advance to ensure that the Museum can comply with legal and other requirements. Details of loan terms and conditions are  communicated to the Registrar who coordinates the review of the loan request and any special requirements pertaining to the loan.  Final approval of loans follow the contract approval guidelines as determined by the Board of Trustees.

Upon request, the Museum provides a current facilities report and provide a certificate of insurance as evidence of the insurance coverage in place for the object on loan.

The Museum complies with the lender’s requirements regarding condition reports and, if none, implements its own documentation of condition upon receipt and return. The Registrar and Conservator negotiate packing, shipping, and handling details with the lender.


In general, the originating institution generates the loan documentation agreement forms, however, if needed the Museum generates these documents to be signed by each responsible party (see Appendix D, Conditions Governing Loans to the Science Museum of Minnesota).

The Registrar documents and tracks all incoming loans.


On expiration of a loan, the material is returned according to the lender’s instructions.  It is the responsibility of the lender to inform the Museum if their address or ownership status changes during the loan period.

If not reclaimed, the Museum proceeds according to policies regarding Unclaimed Loans in this Policy.

An incoming loan is closed when the Registration Office receives confirmation from the lender that all loaned material has been received in good condition.


After the expiration of a loan, the Registrar makes all reasonable attempts to contact the lender to renew or return the loan.  If the Registrar cannot identify the lender and/or is unable to contact or locate the lender, the loan is considered unclaimed.

For the Museum to terminate the loan or assume title to the object, the Museum must make a good faith effort to contact the lender to officially notify them of the termination of the loan.  The efforts are documented and preserved.

The Museum follows notification and claim regulations outlined by Minnesota Statute 345.72 of the Minnesota Museum Property Act, entitled Acquiring Title to Abandoned Property (


Outgoing loans are granted for research, education, exhibits, or other purposes to institutions for objectives that are keeping with the scope and mission of the Museum while considering preservation, security, and safety of Museum objects.


Requests should be made in writing to the Registrar by a permanently employed institutional representative who has authority to bind the institution.  The Museum loans only to institutions, not to individuals.

Adequate preparation time is essential in order to fully and accurately document each loan; the minimum amount of time required is sixty days.  If the request or proposal is initially presented to a Curator or to any other staff member, a copy of the request is sent to the Registrar as soon as possible. 


Loan requests are reviewed by Curators, Collections Managers, the Conservator, and the Registrar.

Loan requests are evaluated with respect to the following conditions:

  • The purpose for which the object is to be used.

  • The context in which the object will be held and presented.

  • The physical and/or intellectual integrity of the object.

  • Restrictions regarding the loan of the object indicated in the accession records.

  • The environmental conditions of transport, storage, and display to which the object will be exposed, including temperature, humidity, and light level.

  • The security and insurance policies and provisions of the borrowing institution.

  • An AAM Standard Facility Report or comparable information.

The Registrar coordinates the review of the loan request, the duration of the loan, and any special requirements pertaining to the loan.  Final approval of loans follow the contract approval guidelines as determined by the Board of Trustees.


The Outgoing Loan Agreement is a formal written agreement the Borrower and the Museum detailing the terms as stated in Conditions Governing Loans from the Science Museum of Minnesota (Appendix E).  An Outgoing Loan Agreement must be fully executed and on file with the Museum before objects are released for loan.

The Registrar ensures that the Outgoing Loan Agreement, correspondence, condition reports, and all other documentation relating to the outgoing loan are permanently preserved in the Outgoing Loan Files and updated in the appropriate database records.


Loan objects are returned to the Museum upon conclusion of the established loan period or if conditions listed in the agreement are no longer met.

An outgoing loan is closed when the Registrar confirms that all loaned material has been returned in good condition.


The Museum acts as steward of materials for the broader benefits of society. This, at times, requires permanent removal of objects from the Museum.

The Museum holds its collections in the public trust, which obligates acting in accordance with the highest legal and ethical standards as defined by the American Association of Museums Code of Ethics. In this regard, the Museum selects objects and specimens for acquisition carefully so deaccessioning is seldom necessary. However, the Museum recognizes that selective culling of the collections can be beneficial to the future strength of the collections.

Legal & Ethical Constraints

The deaccessioning process follows all legal requirements and professional standards.  No object may be removed from the collections without going through the accepted deaccessioning process detailed in this Policy.  The Museum complies with all applicable laws and statutes including but not limited to the Minnesota Property Act.

Before any object is recommended for deaccession or is deaccessioned, reasonable efforts must be made by the museum registrar to verify that the museum may legally do so.  When conditions or restrictions relating to the use or disposition of the object in question are found to apply, the museum shall follow them.

Process and Approvals

Any member of the Accessions Committee may propose an object for potential deaccession.

Once an object is determined to meet one or more of the deaccession criteria listed in the CMP, Collections Department staff reviews the paper and electronic records for the object to confirm that documentation is accurate and complete.  If clear and unrestricted title cannot be determined from available paperwork, the deaccessioning process stops.

The Accession Committee member submits a written recommendation to the Accessions Committee that an object be deaccessioned along with proposed disposition.  Approved recommendations from the Accessions Committee are routed for necessary final approvals following by contract approval guidelines as determined by the Board of Trustees.

An object has been permanently removed from the collection once the following has occurred:

  • The deaccession and disposition is approved at the appropriate level

  • The approved disposition option is executed

  • The entire transaction is recorded by the Registrar

Deaccession Criteria

SMM evaluates all deaccession proposals on a case-by-case basis. One of more of the following criteria must be met for deaccession to occur:

  • Object is not relevant to the Museum’s mission nor within the Scope of Collections.

  • Object is the subject of destructive analysis for Museum-approved scientific research.

  • Object does not contribute to the Museum’s research, exhibition, and/or education priorities.

  • Object has deteriorated to the point that it cannot be used.

  • Object poses a threat to the safety of the public, staff, or other collections items.

  • Object has minimal scientific, cultural, or educational value.

  • Object is the subject of an approved repatriation claim under NAGPRA.


All aspects of the conditions and circumstances of deaccessions and dispositions of objects are recorded by the Registrar and retained as part of the Museum’s collections documentation.  Deaccessioned object records, accession, and catalog numbers are retained as a part of the permanent collection record. 


The Accession Committee reviews and approves possible dispositions along with the original

deaccession proposal. The disposition decision is based on the best interests of the Museum, the public it serves, the public trust they represent in maintaining and preserving the collections, and the scholarly, scientific, and cultural communities it serves.

 No person associated with the Museum, nor any representative or relative of such a person, may acquire an object deaccessioned from the Museum.”


Deaccessioned material may be transferred to the Museum’s education collections or offered to other SMM departments.

The objects may be offered to appropriate scientific, educational, or cultural institutions. Transfer of objects to the receiving institution is by gifts or exchange for an object of equal value.


In cases where gifts, exchanges, or internal transfers do not apply, objects may be sold, provided that discipline-specific ethics and practices are observed and conflict of interest, real or perceived, is avoided.  Sales must be conducted in such a way that they do not contribute to the existence of illegitimate markets, the destruction of resources or sites, illegal trade, or unethical behavior.

Objects sold at public auction may not be purchased by anyone directly associated with the Museum, including Board members, staff, and volunteers. Museum representatives may not directly and/or personally gain or benefit from object dispersals.

Estimates of the fair market value of an object are the responsibility of the Curator, Collections Manager, and/or Registrar. Estimates rely on staff knowledge, market comparables, and possible referrals to external expertise. Estimates, including a written justification of the findings, are filed with the Registrar. Independent, professional appraisals are obtained on a case-by-case basis.

Negotiated private sales, public auction, sealed bidding, or open bidding over a period of time are acceptable options, provided that the availability of such material for sales has been given publicity aimed at the appropriate audience of potential purchasers. In all cases of items offered for sale, a reserve price may be established in advance, or all offers rejected, if an appropriate Museum staff member determines that such action is advisable. The purchase price of each item or collection is available upon request, together with a summary of other bids or offers received. If substantially equivalent offers are received for an object or a collection, then the President, as advised by the appropriate content expert, is authorized to complete the sale to the bidder who appears most likely to provide the highest and most stable degree of care for and make the most appropriate research, exhibition, or educational use of the objects being sold. In most cases, priority is given first to other museums or institutions that hold collections in the public trust. Second priority is given to all other non-profit educational institutions. Third priority is given to members of the general public.

All funds realized from the sale of objects are placed in a restricted account reserved for acquisition of collections per professional standards set forth by the American Alliance of Museums. The Accessions Committee maintains oversight of the fund.


Once an object has been offered as a transfer or sale without success, an object may be slated to be destroyed. Alternatively, destruction may be the preferred method of disposition in cases where the object has deteriorated beyond repair or poses a threat to the safety of people or collections. The method of destruction is at the discretion of the Registrar.

NAGPRA Requirements

The Museum fully complies with all legal requirements to fulfill requests for repatriation in a timely basis. The Museum follows the Procedures for Compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Appendix A).

Reporting Deaccessions

Deaccessions are reported annually to the Board of Trustees.


Relationships between the Science Museum of Minnesota and all cultural groups are governed by respect for human rights, compliance with applicable law, and the values of scientific research and public education. The Museum recognizes the value of research and education and the need to pursue these activities in a respectful, non-intrusive manner that recognizes the rights of nations and peoples.

Culturally sensitive materials are artifacts, specimens, or materials whose treatment or use is a matter of profound concern to living peoples. They may include, but are not limited to human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.

Native American Collections

The Museum strives to resolve questions of the disposition and treatment of sensitive materials through cooperative and timely discussions between the Museum and interested Native American groups. Where issues remain after good faith discussions, an attempt is made to settle these issues through mutually agreed upon processes of mediation or arbitration (see Appendix A, Compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)).


To the fullest extent possible, the Museum consults with descendent communities regarding ownership, consent, and treatment issues before deciding whether to acquire sensitive material related to those groups. Acquisitions of funerary items or sacred objects are based on thorough consultation with concerned parties and is accompanied by documentation showing the acquisition is related to the Museum's institutional mission. There may be cases, for instance, where the Museum may consider acquiring sensitive material in order to act as an agent for their return to the concerned party.


Loans of culturally sensitive materials follow the loan procedures outlined in the Procedures for Compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (Appendix A).

Curation, Care, and Conservation 

The Museum seeks guidance from recognized, concerned parties regarding the identification, proper care, and possible disposition of culturally sensitive materials on a case-by-case basis.

Conservation treatment is not performed on culturally sensitive materials without consulting the representatives of the concerned parties.


Access to culturally sensitive materials is restricted. Requests to access these materials are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Curators and Collections Managers.

Repatriation of Native American Materials

The repatriation of cultural items by the Museum is made in accordance with the provisions of Public Law 101-601: The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the Minnesota Cemeteries Act (Statute 307.08), and any other relevant legislation. When items are to be deaccessioned, the Museum documents the materials as thoroughly as is reasonable and appropriate and as negotiated with the concerned party, except to the extent that such documentation is inconsistent with religious or cultural practices (see Appendix A, Procedures for Compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)).


This policy statement is reviewed every five years by the Accessions Committee. Proposed revisions are communicated to the President and presented to the Board of Trustees for approval.


The Museum fully complies with all legal requirements to fulfill requests for repatriation on a timely basis. When a claim is made, tribal representatives are informed that our response time will be no more than three months, in accordance with Federal guidelines. This timeframe will necessarily remain negotiable, especially in cases concerning large collections. Each claim is handled on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the procedures described in the NAGPRA legislation. Records are kept of all contacts, processes, and discussions with each tribal group formally relating to NAGPRA.

Five categories of Native American objects are subject to NAGPRA. They are human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. 

NAGPRA defines human remains as the physical remains of the body of a person of Native American ancestry. The term does not include remains or portions of remains that may reasonably be determined to have been freely given or naturally shed by the individual from whose body they were obtained, such as hair. For the purposes of determining cultural affiliation, human remains incorporated into a funerary object, sacred object, or object of cultural patrimony must be considered as part of that item. [43 CFR 10.2 (d)(1)] 

Associated funerary objects, as part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later, and both the human remains and associated funerary objects are presently in the possession or control of a Federal agency or museum, except that other items exclusively made for burial purposes or to contain human remains are be considered as associated funerary objects. [25 USC 3001 (3)(A)] 

Unassociated funerary objects, as part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later, where the remains are not in the possession or control of the Federal agency or museum and the objects can be identified by a preponderance of the evidence as related to specific individuals or families or to known human remains or, by a preponderance of the evidence, as having been removed from a specific burial site of an individual culturally affiliated with a particular Indian tribe. [25 USC 3001 (3)(B)] Those funerary objects for which the human remains with which they were placed intentionally are not in the possession or control of a museum or Federal agency. [43 CFR 10.2 (d)(2)(ii)]

Sacred objects are defined as specific ceremonial objects that are needed by traditional Native American religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents. [25 USC 3001 (3)(C)]

Objects of cultural patrimony are defined as objects having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American group or culture itself, rather than f owned by an individual Native American, and which, therefore, cannot be alienated, appropriated, or conveyed by any individual regardless of whether or not the individual is a member of the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and such object shall have been considered inalienable by such Native American group at the time the object was separated from such group. [25 USC 3001 (3)(D)]

Upon request, tribes are given access to records, catalogues, relevant studies, or other pertinent data for the purposes of determining the geographic origin, cultural affiliation, and basic facts surrounding acquisition and accession of Native American objects held by SMM that fall within the above defined categories. The Museum shares all information it possesses regarding an object in question with the known lineal descendant or affiliated tribes to assist in making a repatriation claim.

Repatriation Process

Once a request for repatriation is made, artifacts/specimens must go through the following steps before they leave the Museum.

  1. Assemble associated documentation: Complete records on the objects requested are compiled, including current condition reports.

  2. Photo-documentation: Digital images are taken of any objects not yet photographed, if applicable.

  3. Decision to repatriate: The final decision to repatriate a requested object is recommended by the Curator to the Chair of the CRC. The repatriation proceeds only after the approval the Chair, Vice President of Science, Equity, and Education, and the President.

  4. Returning the objects: Before returning objects, the claim is submitted to the Federal Register and listed for 30 days. From that date, the Museum has 90 days to return the objects barring counter claims.

All objects are deaccessioned according to the Museum’s deaccessioning policy, and returned by appropriate means directly to the officially designated tribal recipient.

In the case of multiple claims on objects, all claimants are invited to an open discussion for the purpose of resolving the issue. The Museum retains the objects until the requesting parties agree upon its disposition or the dispute is otherwise resolved.


The Museum does not knowingly acquire any object whose ownership or legality in this state or country is questionable or whose circumstance of collection is unethical or contrary to the goals and/or good practices of the Science Museum of Minnesota or the museum profession in general.

To the fullest extent possible, the Museum consults with descendent communities regarding ownership, consent, and treatment issues before deciding whether to acquire sensitive material related to those groups. Acquisitions of funerary items or sacred objects are based on thorough consultation with concerned parties and is accompanied by documentation showing the acquisition is related to the Museum's institutional mission. There may be cases, for instance, where the Museum may consider acquiring sensitive material in order to act as an agent for their return to the concerned party.

If collections containing sensitive materials are acquired, steps are taken to assess and define the culturally sensitive nature of the objects, and procedures are carried out to comply with NAGPRA.


Culturally sensitive materials are not loaned except under an explicit agreement by the officially recognized NAGPRA representative for the tribe whose objects are involved. An agreement for long-term loans of the culturally sensitive objects remaining in the care of the Museum may be negotiated by the specific tribe and the Museum.

Curation, Care, and Conservation

On a case-by-case basis, the Museum seeks guidance from the recognized NAGPRA representative of the tribe in question regarding the identification, proper care, and possible disposition of culturally sensitive materials.

Conservation treatment is not performed on culturally sensitive materials without consulting with the Curator responsible for those materials and a recognized NAGPRA representative of the culturally associated tribe.


accession: (1) the act of recording/processing an addition to the permanent collections. (2) an object, or group of objects, acquired by a museum as part of its permanent collections.

accessioning: formal process used to accept legally and to record an object as a collection item; involves the creation of an immediate, brief, and permanent record using a control number or unique identifier for objects added to the collections from the same source at the same time, and for which the institution accepts custody, right, or title.

acquisition: something acquired by the museum. Acquisition does not necessarily involve the transfer of ownership or accession into the collections.

artifact: a human-made item, often manufactured or created from naturally-occurring materials and made for use in a cultural context.

disposal: the process of physically removing an object from the museum’s custody.

cataloging: creating a full record of information about an object, cross-referenced to other records and files; includes the process of identifying and documenting these objects in detail.

collecting: the process of sampling the natural and cultural world using a variety of techniques that are dependent on (1) the organism or material being obtained and (2) the intended use for the sample or the research methods likely to be applied.

collections: (1) a group of objects with like characteristics or a common base of association. (2) an organizational unit within a larger institutional structure. (3) refers to the objects, documents, and data under a museum's care.

collections management: the responsibility and function of an institution that fosters the preservation, accessibility, and utility of their collections and associated data. The management process involves responsibilities for recommending and implementing policy with respect to: collections acquisition, collections growth, and deaccessioning; planning and establishing collections priorities; obtaining, allocating, and managing resources; and coordinating collections processes with the needs of curation, preservation, and use. These responsibilities may be shared by Curators, Collections Managers, the Registrar, subject specialists, and other institution administrators.

conservation: conservation encompasses all those actions taken toward the long-term preservation of cultural heritage. Activities include examination, documentation, treatment, and preventive care, supported by research and education.

curation: the process whereby objects are identified and organized according to discipline-specific recommendations using the most recently available scientific literature and expertise; a primary objective of this process is to verify or add to the existing documentation for these objects, and to add to knowledge.

custody: responsibility for the care of documents based on their physical possession. Custody does not always include legal ownership, or the right to control access to records.

deaccession: (1) an object that has been removed permanently from the museum collections, usually through sale or exchange. (2) the formal process of removing an object permanently from the collections, with transfer of title if appropriate.

deterioration: decline in an object’s physical or chemical state.

documentation: supporting evidence, recorded in a permanent manner using a variety of media, of the identification, condition, history, or scientific value of an object or collection.

education collections: group of objects used for purposes such as hands-on education and exhibition.

exchanges: roughly equivalent reciprocal movement of materials between two or more parties.

fair market value: the price at which property changes hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, acting independently, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.

fluid collections: specimens either whole body or tissue, stored in alcohol, formalin or other preservative fluids.

gifts: an addition to holdings acquired without monetary consideration and becoming the sole property of the recipient, frequently effected by a deed of gift.

integrated pest management (IPM): A strategy that emphasizes prevention and minimizes the use of toxic chemicals to manage and eliminate pests.

loans: temporary physical transfer of objects to or from an outside location for research, exhibit, or education; a loan does not involve a change of ownership.

maintenance: routine actions that support the goals of preservation of and access to the collections such as monitoring, general housekeeping, providing appropriate storage and exhibition conditions, and organizing a collection.

object: an artifact or specimen

permanent collections: those objects that are owned by the Museum intended to be preserved in perpetuity in the public trust.

preservation: actions taken to slow or prevent deterioration or damage to collections by control of their environment and/or treatment of their structure in order to maintain them as nearly as possible in an unchanging state.

sales: payments to the Museum for materials.

sampling: (1) the act or process of selecting and removing some part of an object for testing, analysis, or other use. (2) selecting a portion as a representative of the whole; in natural science collections, sampling refers more specifically to the process of removing a portion of an object for analysis. The analysis may be destructive to the sample.

specimen: any animal or plant, or any part, product, egg, seed, or root of any animal or plant or geological sample.

transfer: change in physical custody of objects or documentation with or without change of legal title.

treatment: actions taken, physically or chemically, to stabilize or make accessible an artifact or specimen; includes, for example, techniques such as preparation, cleaning, mending, supporting, pest eradication, and consolidation.


The Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) has an Open Access policy for all suitable images of SMM collections available through SMM’s electronic interfaces.

Suitability includes consideration of culturally sensitive objects, objects that are under temporary custody of the Museum, images with privacy issues, and images known to be within copyright.

Open Access images are digital surrogates of materials that are in SMM’s collections and in the public domain, for which we hold all rights, or for which we are not aware of any rights restrictions. SMM Open Access images are free of charge from SMM for anyone to download and reproduce for any use. Users do not need to contact SMM for permission to use these images.

At SMM, Open Access means the public now has the ability to  share, collaborate, remix, and reuse images of the collections. SMM promotes use of its Open Access images so that a far larger audience may benefit from SMM’s collection.
The SMM Open Access policy only applies to SMM’s collections images provided through the SMM Collections Online ( It does not apply to the SMM website as a whole, other content appearing on or linked through the SMM website, the content appearing in SMM social media accounts, exhibitions, or publications. Please refer to SMM’s Legal Notice regarding access and use of the Science Museum of Minnesota website for the terms that apply to that content (

To request images of SMM collections that are not illustrated online, or to request digital files in resolutions or formats beyond those offered through the website, you may submit a request to the Registrar. Requests for new photography are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. A fee to cover the cost of creating new imagery will be charged.

Please note that in some cases SMM owns only the physical object, there may be some underlying rights that are unknown to SMM. For that reason, users are ultimately responsible for determining whether the rights of third parties may be involved, and whether permission for those rights may need to be obtained by the user. SMM’s new photo fees do not include any fees due to the copyright owner. While the Registrar will assist the applicant with contact information, it is the responsibility of the applicant to obtain permission from the copyright owner. SMM assumes no liability for the use of these images if a third party makes an infringement claim.

As a courtesy to SMM and to enable others to identify and locate information about its collections, please include the following credit with any use of one of SMM’s Open Access images: “Courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota.”

SMM would appreciate a gratis copy of any publications in which the images are reproduced in order to retain record of how image reproductions are utilized. Please send to the attention of the Registrar.

Users may not suggest or imply that the Science Museum of Minnesota endorses, approves, or has participated in any projects utilizing images obtained from the Science Museum of Minnesota.



This agreement form is to be used when objects are loaned from an outside agency or individual to any unit of the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) for purposes such as a temporary exhibit or research. This agreement covers all the terms and conditions of the loan either expressed or implied.

Care, Preservation, and Exhibition

SMM will give to items borrowed the same care as it does comparable property of its own. Precautions will be taken to protect items from fire, theft, mishandling, dirt and insects, and extremes of light, temperature, and humidity while in SMM's custody. The lender understands that all tangible objects are subject to gradual inherent deterioration for which neither party is responsible. Evidence of damage at the time of receipt or while in SMM's custody will be reported as soon as practical to the lender. No alteration, restoration, or repair of loan items will be undertaken without the authorization of the lender. SMM retains the right to determine when, if and for how long objects borrowed will be exhibited. SMM retains the right to cancel the loan upon reasonable notice to the lender. 


Items to be insured by SMM will be covered by an all-risk wall-to-wall rider on SMM's institutional insurance policy subject to the standard exclusions contained in this policy. Insurance will be placed in the amount specified by the lender herein, which must reflect fair market value. Lender's failure to indicate a value constitutes lender's authorization to SMM to set a value for purposes of insurance for the period of the loan. Said value is not to be considered an appraisal. If the lender elects to maintain his own Insurance coverage, then prior to shipping, SMM must be supplied with a certificate of insurance naming SMM as an additional insured. If the lender fails to provide said certificate, this failure shall constitute a waiver of insurance by the lender. SMM shall not be responsible for any error or deficiency in information furnished by the lender to the insurer or for any lapses in such coverage. In the case of long-term loans, it is the responsibility of the lender to notify SMM of changes in insurance valuation.

If the lender elects to waive insurance, this waiver shall constitute the agreement of the lender to release and hold harmless SMM and its employees, officers, and agents from all liability in connection with the items(s) while on loan to SMM except for clear gross negligence. The amount payable by insurance secured in accordance with this agreement is the sole recovery available to the lender from SMM except in the event of loss or damage.

Packing and Transportation

The lender certifies that the items lent are in such condition as to withstand ordinary strains of packing and transportation and handling. The lender must send a written report of the condition of the items prior to shipment to SMM; otherwise, it will be assumed that the items are received in the same condition as when leaving the lender's possession. Condition reports will be made at SMM on arrival and departure. 

Reproduction and Credit

Unless stated otherwise in the SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS section on the face of this agreement, the loan items may be photographed or reproduced by SMM for educational, catalog, and publicity purposes. It is understood that the general public may photograph objects on exhibit, unless prohibited by the lender. Unless otherwise stated in writing, SMM will give credit to the lender as specified on the face of this agreement in any publication and on exhibit credit panels. 

Change In Ownership and/or Address

It is the responsibility of the lender or the lender's agent to notify SMM promptly in writing if there is any change in ownership of the items (either through inter vivos transfer or death) or if there is a change in the identity or address of the lender. SMM assumes no responsibility to search for a lender (or owner) who cannot be reached at the address of record.

Return of Loans

Unless otherwise agreed in writing, a loan terminates on the date specified on the face of this agreement. Upon termination of the loan, the lender must contact SMM to arrange for a return or renewal. If the lender has not contacted SMM within thirty days of the termination of this loan, SMM will attempt to notify the lender in writing at the last known address of the need to arrange a return or renewal. Objects will be returned only to the lender of record or to a location mutually agreed upon in writing by SMM and the lender of record. In case of uncertainty, SMM reserves the right to require a lender/claimant to establish title of proof satisfactory to SMM. After 90 days, if SMM cannot reasonably locate lender, SMM reserves the right to dispose of loaned items under any method it deems appropriate


This agreement form is to be used when objects from the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) are loaned to an outside agency for purposes such as exhibit, research, or education. This agreement covers all the terms and conditions of the loan either expressed or implied. 

Care, Preservation and Exhibition
Items borrowed shall be given special care at all times to ensure against loss, damage, or deterioration. The borrower agrees to meet any special requirements for installation and handling that may be specified by SMM. Furthermore, SMM may require an inspection and approval of the actual installation by a member of its staff as a condition of the loan at the expense of the borrower. All items lent by SMM have been examined and are considered to be in sound condition for loan. Upon receipt and prior to return of the item(s), the borrower must make a written record of condition. SMM's registrar is to be notified immediately, followed by a full written report, including photographs, if damage or loss is discovered. No item may be altered, cleaned, or repaired without prior written permission of SMM. Items must be maintained in a building equipped to protect items from fire, smoke, or flood damage; under 24-hour physical and/or electronic security; and protected from extreme temperature and humidity, excessive light, and from insects, vermin, dirt, or other environmental hazards. Only experienced personnel must handle items. Items included in exhibits must be secured from damage and theft by appropriate brackets, railings, display case, or other responsible means. SMM reserves the right to inspect and verify care, preservation, and exhibition meets these terms and immediately request return should such not be maintained.

Unless stated otherwise on the face of this agreement, items shall be insured at the borrower's expense during the period of this loan for the value stated on the face of this agreement under an all-risk wall-to-wall policy subject to SMM approval. If the borrower is insuring the item(s), SMM must be furnished with a certificate of insurance naming SMM as an additional insured or a copy of the policy, at SMM's option, prior to shipment of the item(s). The SMM Registrar must be notified in writing at least 20 days prior to any cancellation or change in the borrower's policy. Any lapses in coverage, any failure to secure insurance and/or any inaction by the lender regarding notice will not release the borrower from liability for loss or damage. Insurance value may be reviewed periodically and SMM reserves the right to increase coverage if reasonably justified during the loan period. In the event of loss or damage, the borrower's maximum liability will be limited to the insurance limits required under this agreement, whether such insurance is in effect or not.

Packing and Transportation
Packing and transportation shall be by safe methods approved in advance by SMM. Experienced personnel under competent supervision must do unpacking and repacking. Repacking must be done with the same or similar materials and boxes, and by the same methods as the item(s) were received. Any additional instructions specified by SMM will be followed. 

SMM reserves the option to charge a loan fee to cover administrative costs related to the processing of the loan. In addition, the borrower is responsible for any appraisal, conservation, packing, shipping, handling, and insurance costs associated with the loan. An estimate of all costs for a loan shall be given to the borrower in writing, but costs are not limited to that estimate. 

Reproduction and Credit
The borrower may photograph the item(s) covered by this agreement only for record and publicity purposes and for reproduction in exhibit publications unless otherwise specified on the face of this agreement. Framed, matted, or mounted items must not be removed from their frames, mats, or mounts for photography. Other photographic requests must be submitted in writing to SMM for prior approval, which may be withheld at SMM's sole discretion. The borrower may not reproduce such item(s) in any media for any purpose other than those specified in this agreement, nor may item(s) be subjected to technical examination, without the prior written permission of SMM. The borrower may not grant publishing rights to any third party without the express written permission of SMM. Information about each item that is used in publications, labels, or for any other purpose shall conform to the catalog data furnished by SMM and shall always credit The Science Museum of Minnesota using the exact credit line appearing on the face of this agreement. 

Items lent must be returned to SMM in satisfactory condition by the date specified on the face of this agreement unless an extension of the loan period has been requested by the lender and approved in writing by SMM. If the loan period is extended, insurance coverage must also be extended for the full loan period. Borrower shall not loan, offer or provide objects to any other person during the term of this agreement. SMM reserves the right to recall the item(s) from loan on short notice, if necessary. Furthermore, SMM reserves the right to cancel this loan for good cause at any time and will make every effort to give reasonable notice thereof. 

In the event of any conflict between this agreement and any forms of the borrower, the terms of this agreement shall be controlling.


This policy documents SMM’s commitment to protecting its collections from pest damage.


Pest infestation is a serious threat to museum collections. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a holistic pest control strategy focused on eliminating harmful vertebrate and invertebrate pests. The strategy aims to reduce the use of pesticides through good housekeeping, regular monitoring and targeted treatment. The museum practices IPM to ensure the preservation of the collections and to protect the health and safety of employees and visitors.


The Collections Department is responsible for IPM at SMM. Since IPM relies on holistic implementation, all SMM staff are encouraged to assist in this effort with good housekeeping and with communication of any pest activity. The museum contracts with a local pest control company for regular monitoring and technical support.


SMM supports the IPM program. Collections Department staff are dedicated to semi-monthly      pest inspections with a contracted licensed pest control professional. The contract allows for additional follow up service as needed. The Department maintains documentation of monitoring and mitigation. SMM maintains a walk-in freezer at the SMM Warehouse for treatment. If treatment beyond freezing is necessary, funds are available through the department budget. 


Collections Department staff train anyone involved in implementing IPM procedures.

Best Practices

IPM includes the use of good housekeeping techniques; regular monitoring of collections, building and environs; identification of pest species; inspection and isolation of all incoming collections material including loans; and treatment in the safest manner for collections and staff. IPM procedures follow museum industry best practices as shared through the IPM Working Group. Licensed pest control contractors apply pesticide as necessary, following all applicable regulations.


Collections Department staff regularly monitor for vertebrate, invertebrate pests. Pest monitoring includes the use of blunder or baited traps, visual inspection of critical areas, and pest sighting reports from museum and catering staff.

Remedial Action

If monitoring identifies a pest infestation or a concerning rise of indicator insects, staff will increase trapping and monitoring frequency to identify a source. Infested collections objects are first isolated, and then treated with least toxic measures such as temperature modification or anoxia. If the infestation persists, staff may consider using chemical pesticides after consultation with Curators and Collections Managers. Infested areas are thoroughly cleaned and regularly inspected. If the infestation persists, the licensed pest control contractor may engage in targeted pesticide application. Vertebrate pests are controlled through exclusion and mechanical trapping within the building. Exterior baiting controls vertebrate pests on the property to limit their entry.


The Collections Department maintains documentation for all IPM activities. Staff document object pest control treatments in the condition report files. 


The IPM Policy is reviewed every 3 years.