The MIT Museum’s collections are rich in archival materials, plans, photographs, drawings, company records, personal papers, thesis materials, memorabilia, and much more. We’re pleased to help you access the museum’s collections to support your research.

Submit a Research Request

Collections staff will provide up to one hour of research time without charge, subject to curatorial discretion, after which the researcher may pursue the inquiry in person or pay a research fee for a professional staff member to complete the research. Current MIT staff, faculty, and students are exempt from this one-hour limit as museum resources permit.

All research requests must be submitted via the MIT Museum Reference Inquiry Form and should include the following:

  • Your specific research question
  • Your mailing address, phone number/email
  • The purpose of interest or intended use
  • Previously consulted sources, if any

Please note that it may take us up to three weeks to respond to your message.

Photography and permissions services and fees

In-Person Use of the Collections

By appointment only Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Please request an appointment via the MIT Museum Onsite Research Request Form.

A significant portion of the MIT Museum’s collections are stored off-site. Access to objects stored at this facility must be arranged in advance with the appropriate curator. Please allow enough additional time to make these arrangements.

Researcher Guidelines [PDF] for on-site collections use.

The museum expects that all researchers who make use of collections, regardless of their affiliation with MIT, will adhere to any legal or ethical restrictions on research imposed by the museum or by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and that they will operate in accordance with the generally accepted ethical standards of the field in which they are working.

Unsupervised use of the collections is not permitted. Researchers may use laptop computers in the reading room; however, the use of optical scanning equipment is not permitted. Reference photos may be taken by permission only.

All materials, except for reference publications located in the reading room area, must be retrieved and reshelved by staff. Collections staff may not be able to provide access to heavy or large objects or objects stored in remote areas during a research appointment if use of these objects was not requested in advance and additional qualified staff are not available for retrieval assistance at that time. Collections staff may limit the number of objects used at one time.

Access Restrictions

General browsing of the museum’s collections is not allowed. The museum does not make loans from its collections for research or publication purposes except as specified in its loan policy.

Uncatalogued collections are generally not made available to researchers.

Access to objects in fragile condition is granted only at the discretion of the assigned curator.

Names of donors, former owners, or lenders who wish to remain anonymous; mailing addresses and telephone numbers of all donors, former owners, and lenders; storage locations of objects; and object values, including purchase prices, appraisals, and insurance valuations will not be given out except by approval of the MIT museum director.

The MIT Museum will not give out the address, phone number, or other contact information of living alumni. Patrons researching this information should contact the MIT Alumni Association.

The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Historical Collection is restricted to researchers approved by the library/technical information center at Draper Laboratory. Materials in this collection cannot be copied or otherwise reproduced without prior approval from Draper Laboratory.
Holograms not currently on exhibit are made available only by special arrangement.

Class visits or research

The MIT Museum welcomes visits from college and university classes in science, history of science, museum studies, and many more fields. To begin the process of arranging a class visit, please complete the MIT Museum Onsite Research Request Form.

For class visits to the Museum’s galleries or for educational workshops, please see the Museum’s Group Visits page.

Donations

Thank you for considering making a donation to the MIT Museum’s collection!

We seek items that document MIT and also engage, instruct, and inspire our audiences. Accessioning a new object means MIT is making a commitment to preserve this item in perpetuity. Therefore, we have guidelines for accessioning new work and invite you to complete the donation form to begin the process.

The MIT Museum Donation Offer Form is for offers of objects to donate to the museum’s permanent collections; for any other kinds of gift, please visit Giving to the Museum.

Registrar’s Toolkit

The following web pages outline MIT Museum policies guiding the acquisition of new objects into the collection and the conditions for both incoming and outgoing loans between the museum and other institutions, organizations, and MIT departments.

The museum’s complete Collections Manual is available for download as a PDF. This document contains policies governing management of MIT Museum Collections. These policies are subject to comprehensive review every three years; however, recommendations for changes or additions may be made at any time to the Collections Manager and, upon approval from the Director, the policies will be revised and updated.

This resource has been instrumental to museum studies students interested in collection management and to professional colleagues seeking a model to replicate.

Rights and Permissions

All images provided by the MIT Museum are for study use only unless written publications permission is granted. Purchasing reproductions does not imply the right to publish or reproduce an image. Publication fees are in addition to reproduction charges and a signed Permission to Use Agreement must be returned and all permission fees paid prior to publication. (For further information for boat-builders, see Hart Nautical Plan Policy (PDF).)
The following policies and fees apply only to print publications and online use. All other uses are determined on a case-by-case basis. Please contact museum-reference@mit.edu.

All requests for permission to publish must include the following:

    • Title
    • Product format
    • Author
    • Organization
    • Date of publication
    • Distribution: regional, national, worldwide
    • Use: commercial, non-commercial, personal

Please use the MIT Museum Image Request form to request use of an image.

Online

Low-resolution 72 ppi images of 1000 x 1000 pixels or smaller can be provided at no charge. Images must be credited “Courtesy MIT Museum.” Posting higher resolution images of MIT Museum collections is strictly prohibited for all users, including the MIT community.

Print

Fees are determined by the anticipated distribution and use.
Non-commercial use: $20–$80 per image based on distribution
Commercial use: $40–$160 per image based on distribution, plus one copy of the publication or product for the museum’s records

Permissions are granted for one-time, non-exclusive right to publish a single edition in a single language. Revised editions, foreign language editions, or other format changes, except for a paperback version of the original edition, are subject to additional permission fees.

The museum can only grant reproduction permission for materials that are in the public domain or for which MIT is the copyright holder. When copyright is not held by MIT, museum staff will provide as much information as is available to aid the researcher in locating the copyright holder; however, collections staff cannot serve as an intermediary to obtain permission on behalf of the researcher.