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Department of Anthropology

Mexican masks in storage

Please read and acknowledge your acceptance of this policy before proceeding to the Appointment Request Form, below.

The Department of Anthropology can accommodate only a limited number of visitors each month. At times, parts of the collection will be inaccessible or staff unavailable to assist visitors. To avoid disappointment, visitors are advised to request an appointment at least one month in advance.

  • Projects must be specific and visitors will have to limit themselves to the material they initially requested. Casual browsing and additional impromptu requests cannot be accommodated.
  • Visitors in collection or record areas must be accompanied by a staff member. Access is provided only during regular staff working hours: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4:30 pm, excluding federal holidays. Backpacks and most personal items are not permitted in collections storage areas; lockers or other secure space for personal items are available on request.
  • Staff will advise visitors on collections access, handling and inventory procedures. Further access to collections will be denied to those who fail to comply with these procedures. If you have any doubt about proper handling, please ask first.
  • During the late 19th and early 20th century, it was common practice in museums to treat objects with pesticides in an effort to protect them from damage by insects and rodents. Please consult the NMNH statement on pesticide treatments for more information and handling precautions.
  • Groups must indicate the number of people. We will determine whether we can provide access based on the nature and location of the collection.
  • Researchers must be at least 18 years old. Visits or tours for children ages 12-17 are only permitted by special advance appointment and adult chaperones must be present. Children under the age of 12 are not usually permitted.
  • In order to provide the greatest amount of service in the time available it may be necessary to restrict the amount of time available for each visitor, limit repeat visits by the same individual, or restrict visitors to use of photographs and other records in the Collection Reference Center.
  • A copy is requested of any publication or thesis, if material from the collections is used as an integral or major part of the research. Please credit material used in publications to the Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution.
  • Photographs of artifacts in the collections may be taken only with staff permission, given time and space limitations. The Department reserves the right to limit views taken if the objects are judged to be fragile, and photography and handling would cause damage. Only electronic flash or the use of ambient light is permitted. Visitors must provide all their own photographic equipment. The Department cannot supply lights, other equipment, or specialized work space.
  • Such photographs are for personal and research use only. Clearance for any other use, including scholarly publication, exhibition, electronic transmission, or general distribution in any medium, must be secured by submitting a written request to the attention of the Collections Manager, and will be evaluated by staff on a case-by-case basis.
  • Orders for professional publication-quality prints, transparencies, and digital images may be placed with the Smithsonian Photographic Services Office. SPS order forms and fee schedules and Department of Anthropology permission request forms and policy are available on request


I have read this policy and agree to abide by the regulations governing access to the collections of the Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution.

Yes, I agree to these terms
  > Appointment Request Form

No, I do not agree

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