Collections Access

The Hearst Museum grants access to collections for the purpose of research and study conforming to the standards of the scholarly disciplines it represents. The Museum also provides access to scholars and members of groups whose traditional culture is represented by collections cared for by the Museum.

How to Make An Appointment

All research requests, including those for museum documents and catalog cards, are submitted through the Collections Access Request Form.

The following supplemental information will be required once the request has been processed:

  • Student researchers are required to provide a letter of support from a faculty member from their home institution who is familiar with their research.
  • Unaffiliated researchers should provide a brief CV with their statement of research objectives.
  • For collections covered by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), more information can be found here.

Requests to conduct destructive analysis, publish photographs from the museum’s collection, or for original photography require separate consideration and are subject to other policies. For more information, consult the Museum’s Policy for Destructive Analysis (below) or Media Permissions.

Access Fees

The Hearst Museum recognizes the facilitation of research on the collections for which it cares as a primary means of accomplishing its mission. The Museum seeks to accommodate as many such visits as possible while balancing staff and space constraints. The Museum has established a collections and document access fee schedule for some visitors, effective July 1, 2017. Please refer to the following fee schedule to determine any associated costs with access. All visitors must produce appropriate identification and/or proof of enrollment in an accredited higher education institution.

Fees are waived for the following visitors.

  • UC Berkeley faculty, students, and qualified staff members
  • Campus-approved post-doctoral and visiting scholars
  • Tribal and descendent communities, and associated qualified researchers

No fees for up to 3 days in a calendar year; fee of $25 per day thereafter.

  • Non-UC Berkeley graduate students pursuing graduate research at an accredited institution of higher education
  • Qualified researchers who are undergraduate or graduate alumni of UC Berkeley
  • Qualified educators seeking instructional content for K-12 students

Fee of $75 per day for up to 3 days in a calendar year; fee of $100 per day thereafter

  • Non-UC Berkeley qualified academic researchers
  • Qualified researchers from recognized non-profit organizations
  • Qualified self-funded independent researchers

Fee of $90 per hour (for job-related or government-agency research)

  • Employees of cultural resource management firms
  • Employees of local, state, and federal government agencies
  • Employees of commercial or for-profit organizations

Digital Access Fees

The Hearst Museum is committed to the curation and long term preservation of the archival resources in its care. To avoid excessive handling of delicate paper material, portions of the archive are now available in digital format and can be accessed online upon request. Once a digital copy has been made available for distribution purposes, the original hard copy document is no longer available for viewing. Access to digital documents requires each researcher to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement for the protection of sensitive data and information contained therein. A flat fee of $20 is applied to each request, for up to ten digital documents.

Additional Charges

  • Visitors requiring staff to conduct extensive research prior to a visit may incur additional charges.
  • Visits requiring extensive time to pull and rehouse objects may incur additional charges.
  • Visitors in Groups 2, 3, and 4 who make their reservation with less than six weeks notice will be charged an additional one day’s fees.
  • Visitors cancelling their reservation with less than seven working days notice will be charged one day’s fees.
  • Separate fees apply for loans, commercial photography and duplication services

Collection managers and/or the Registrar will estimate fees for each visitor. The balance is due prior to the visit. Payment can be made by credit card or personal check made out to the “Regents of the University of California.” Aside from visitors in Group 4, all fees will be assessed in full day increments. No refunds will be granted.

All revenue from these fees will be dedicated to visit-related operating costs and conservation supplies at the Museum Director’s discretion. Only the Director or his/her designated proxy may waive or reduce fees. Fee schedule will be subject to annual review.

Policy for Destructive Analysis

The Hearst Museum 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, the Loans and Acquisitions Committee, an internal committee of Museum staff members, including the director, will consider the proposal. Relevant Faculty Curators will be consulted following this initial review. 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. When possible and reasonable, the Museum’s conservator will prepare  the samples to be tested in close coordination with the researcher.


The following information is compiled into a proposal and send to

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

The museum does not 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 in-person research visit.