About the Portal

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the newly revised Hearst Museum Portal.

What is the Hearst Museum Portal?

The Hearst Museum Portal is a simplified gateway to publicly accessible data and images for all objects in the care of the University of California, Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. We invite you to use the Hearst Museum Portal to explore and discover our collections.


How do I use the Hearst Museum Portal?

Click here for tips on how to be a Portal-using pro!

Are all of the Hearst Museum’s cataloged holdings accessible through the Hearst Museum Portal?



What kinds of objects aren’t accessible through the Hearst Museum Portal?

No, really—we’re proud of the fact that 100% of the cataloged holdings in our care are included in the Hearst Museum Portal. Anything that is not cataloged (our library, archives, the contents of staff lunch bags) is generally not included in the Hearst Museum Portal.


What information isn’t accessible through the Hearst Museum Portal?

Any information that needs to be restricted for legal, cultural, or safety reasons is considered sensitive information and is not shared with the public through the Hearst Museum Portal.

Some of the information that the Museum maintains about its objects is considered sensitive because publicly releasing that information would create risk. The risk may be to objects in the Museum (e.g., risk of theft if object values and storage locations were to be disclosed), to objects outside the Museum (if records of current or historical conservation treatments were to be taken as an endorsement of a particular treatment for a similar object), to archaeological sites (if the exact location of threatened archaeological sites were to be made public), to the Museum and donors (in those cases where the donor has requested anonymity), and to tribes and cultural groups (who may have shared culturally sensitive information that was not intended for general release), among others.

We try to be as generous as possible with the information that we share, but we will not share information that creates risk for the Museum, the holdings it cares for, the Museum’s stakeholders, or cultural heritage in general.


Why are some images obscured?

Any images that need to be restricted for cultural reasons are considered sensitive images and are not shared with the public through the Hearst Museum Portal.

Based on specific guidance from the Museum’s Native American Advisory Council, as well as feedback we’ve received working with descendant communities over the last decade, we decided that images of the following should not be presented on the Portal:

  • Human remains removed from North American archaeological contexts
  • Objects removed from North American funerary contexts
  • Objects from North America that are identified as “charm stones”

Instead of the image itself, we display a placeholder image that reads “Image restricted due to its potentially sensitive nature. Contact Museum to request access.”

What are deaccessioned objects, and why are they still accessible?

Some of the objects once in the Hearst Museum’s care have since been permanently removed from the Museum’s collections through a process called deaccessioning. Deaccessioned objects can include, for example, those that are damaged beyond repair, that have been repatriated to their source or descendant communities, or that have been determined to fall outside the Museum’s mission. By making deaccessioned items visible through the Hearst Museum Portal, the Museum wishes to be transparent about its historic holdings, and to share the information associated with those objects with anyone who is interested.

Under what circumstances can I ask for additional object images to be obscured?

Requests for the restriction of photographs in the Hearst Museum Portal should be sent to PAHMA-CulturalPolicy@berkeley.edu and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To streamline this process, regarding objects originating from the United States, requests will be accepted only from tribal chairpersons or authorized NAGPRA representatives. Requests should include a brief statement of cultural affiliation to the object in question. Requests related to Museum holdings from outside the United States will also be reviewed, with consideration of the authority of the requestor from within a specific cultural community and the relationship of that community to the object at issue.


Under what circumstances can I access obscured images?

Requests to access obscured images will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To request access, send an email to PAHMA-CulturalPolicy@berkeley.edu. Please include the Museum number(s) of the object(s) in question, and your reason for wanting to see the image.

Who can use the Hearst Museum Portal? Is it free?

The Hearst Museum Portal is a free resource available to anyone who is interested. Please read and observe the copyright restrictions.


What are the copyright restrictions?

Images and information are © 2020 The Regents of the University of California, all rights reserved. Images and information may be reproduced or transmitted, but not for commercial use. For commercial use, contact PAHMA-MediaPermissions@berkeley.edu. With the exception of objects and media for which the Museum does not hold copyright, this work is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. By downloading any information or images from this site, you agree to the terms of that license. Users are expected to abide by all copyright laws. Distribution, reproduction, or other use requires the written permission of any copyright and other rights holders unless the materials are in the public domain or authorized by fair use or other statutory exemption. It is the user’s obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in this collection.

I see a photo of an object that I like and I’d like to download it to use in a paper I’m writing. Can I do that?

You may use photos you download from the Hearst Museum Portal for non-commercial uses. For commercial uses, see our Media Permissions, Policies, and Fees page and fill out the Media Request Form at the bottom of that page, if needed. If you are not sure whether your intended use requires permission, please contact PAHMA-MediaPermissions@berkeley.edu to inquire.

While we do not require that you notify us about non-commercial uses of images, we do request that you voluntarily notify us of such uses. Knowing about such non-commercial uses of images helps us in many ways, including allowing us to be more responsive to inquiries from descendant communities, and allowing us to report statistics on the use of our images to the University. You can let us know about your noncommercial use of Hearst Museum media by filling out our Media Request Form at the bottom of the Media Permissions, Policies, and Fees page.

I'm Timmy and I'm in the 8th grade. Do I have to jump through all of these hoops, too?

No, Timmy, you’re safe as long as you’re not making money from it and you say that you got the photo from the Hearst Museum.

Do all objects have photos?

Not yet. We’re working on it, but with a collection as large as the Hearst Museum’s, this will take time. We’re currently adding hundreds—sometimes thousands—of new object photos each week, but it will still take several years before we’re close to having all objects photographed.

Is the information about all objects complete? Is any information missing?

While our digital cataloging data is more complete than it’s ever been in the history of the Hearst Museum, we are still far from having complete information in digital form about every object in our collection. For the first century of our existence, documentation was kept almost exclusively in paper form. This paper documentation is often in duplicate or triplicate forms that do not always completely concur, and the terms used are often outdated (think “Siam” or “moustache lifter”), ambiguous (think “Northwest Coast”), imprecise (think “Plains Indians”), or just plain missing.

Despite this, we’ve been making rapid inroads into expanding our digital documentation. It will still take perhaps a decade before we’re close to having all objects more fully digitally documented.


How often are information and images added or updated?

Every single day! The Hearst Museum Portal refreshes all of its data every day at around 3:30–4:30 am Berkeley time, as well as bringing in any new photographs taken the previous day. The Hearst Museum is in a very active period of collections documentation and photography at the moment, so check back frequently if you do not find what you are looking for at first. If there’s a specific collection that you’d like to see better documented, please use the Feedback form to let us know which object or set of objects you’d like to see improved next.

Why do you have more than one way to view the collections online? What are they?

Viewing the collection with the Hearst Museum Portal is the quickest and easiest way to begin exploring the Hearst Museum’s collections.

We’ve decided to leave the Hearst Museum’s previous Collections Browser online as it is sometimes better suited for more complex queries, as well as having features (e.g., downloading datasets and mapping search results) that are not available in the new Hearst Museum Portal.

You are welcome to use whichever tool best suits you.


Where does this information come from? Is this information accurate? Is it up to date?

The information provided herein comes from a variety of sources and represents our best effort to provide accurate, up-to-date information about the objects in our collections. If you see information that you believe to be inaccurate or outdated, please use the Feedback form and let us know the Museum number(s) of the object(s) in question and what information you believe needs to be corrected or updated.

Please note that the records for many objects include their original catalog cards, which often date to the early 1900s. These cards may include tribal names and terminology that are today considered unacceptable or offensive, or that may prove inaccurate with further analysis. They have been included to illustrate the information that originally accompanied the objects.

Why are some locations inaccurate? Are there really archaeological sites in the San Francisco Bay?

Archaeological sites are invaluable, irreplaceable cultural resources that must be protected. We firmly believe this, and the U.S. Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 requires this for all U.S. archaeological sites. The Hearst Museum extends the same protection to international archaeological sites as it does to U.S. archaeological sites.

The locations of all archaeological sites in the Hearst Museum Portal are systematically and individually obfuscated by a small offset of as much as 0.05º to both latitude and longitude. This adjustment means that the real location of the site is not at the latitude and longitude we present, but is somewhere within a 36-square-mile ellipse centered on that location. This will not matter if you’re looking for the general location of the site, but it does mean that you won’t be able to find the exact location of the site from the coordinates we provide.

How can I use the information I find on the Portal? (Terms of Use)

Images and information are © 2018 The Regents of the University of California, all rights reserved. The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology’s Hearst Museum Portal and its contained information and images are licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. Use of any information or images accessed through the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology’s Hearst Museum Portal requires adherence to the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 License. In summary, these are:

  • You are free to:
    • Share—copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
    • Adapt—remix, transform, and build upon the material
  • Under the following terms:
    • Attribution—You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made††. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
      • give appropriate credit—if supplied, you must provide the name of the creator and attribution parties, a copyright notice, a license notice, a disclaimer notice, and a link to the material (read more).
      • †† indicate if changes were made—you must indicate if you modified the material and retain an indication of previous modifications (marking guide) (read more).
    • NonCommercial—You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
      • commercial purposes—A commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation (read more).
    • ShareAlike—If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
    • No additional restrictions—You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
      • technological measures—The license prohibits application of effective technological measures, defined with reference to Article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (read more).
  • The quality and completeness of data cannot be guaranteed. Users employ these data at their own risk.
  • The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology is not responsible for any misuse, misinterpretation, or unintended consequences of use of information or images. Information and images are provided “as-is” and no warranty is given or implied as to their accuracy, currency, completeness, or appropriateness for use. Users are encouraged to personally verify data before use in critical applications.
  • Where applicable, users shall respect restrictions of access to sensitive information and images.
  • Data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should be referenced using these suggested citations:
    • Citing the entire dataset: “Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (PAHMA), University of California, Berkeley. [link] (accessed on [date]).”
    • Citing a single PAHMA record: “PAHMA 1-12345, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (PAHMA), University of California, Berkeley. [link] (accessed on [date]).”
  • The Hearst Museum may update or make changes to the data provided at any time without notice. Questions concerning the data should be directed to PAHMA-Research@berkeley.edu.

Return to the Hearst Museum Portal.