Policy for Destructive Analysis

Guidelines for Application to Carry Out Destructive Analysis on Materials in the Collection of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology will consider proposals that demonstrate a clear knowledge of methodologies and that will result in the enhancement of knowledge about the material tested. While the Museum recognizes the significant results that can be obtained by the use of destructive analysis, it seeks to balance the loss to the collections caused by sampling with the potential of the proposed research. 


Once the Museum has determined that it is legal, ethical, and advisable for the specified collections to be the subject of destructive analysis, an internal committee of Museum staff members, including the director, will consider the proposal. The committee may suggest a modification of the research design or require additional steps on the part of the researcher.

  • The museum will not consider proposals to carry out destructive analysis in which the method to be used is untested, or in which the intended method has already been used on the same objects in the museum’s collection.

The investigator must agree prior to receiving permission to carry out destructive analysis to provide the museum with a copy of his or her results. As destructive analysis results in a loss, the investigator may be asked to carry out additional tests at the same time to minimize the loss. A prospective investigator should be aware that the museum’s conservator will take the samples to be tested.


Please include the following information in your proposal and send to pahma-registration@berkeley.edu:

  1. Description of overall project, and rationale for the use of destructive analysis.
  2. A list of the specific specimens to be tested, and if applicable, the part of the object to be sampled.
  3. A detailed description of analytical technique to be used, and published examples of its successful use on similar materials.
  4. A CV for the principal investigator, and the names and qualifications of the technicians if different.



The museum cannot undertake the work of selecting items to be sampled for researchers, and will not agree to blanket requests. As a result, requests for destructive analysis will generally require a preliminary research visit.