Collections Use Policy for Researchers and Publication

In-Person Use of the Collections
Access Restrictions
Publication Policy
Hart Nautical Plan Policy (PDF)
Reproductions for Decorative Purposes

To contact the Collections and Research staff for donation offers, image use requests, or research appointments, please use our contact forms or email

For information about image and use costs, see Services and Fees.

In-Person Use of the Collections

The Museum expects that all researchers, both in-house and visiting, who make use of collections 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.

Research hours are Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm by appointment only.

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. If a researcher has requested a number of different collections objects or files, collections staff may limit the number of objects used at one time.

For non-MIT researchers, 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 of $30 per hour for a professional staff member to complete the research. Researchers working on extensive projects must make arrangements with staff at least one week in advance of their scheduled first appointment.

For current members of the faculty, staff, or student body of MIT, collections staff will take as much time as necessary, subject to curatorial discretion, to answer a reference inquiry. If it is anticipated that staff research of a reference inquiry will take longer to answer than Museum resources permit, arrangements will be made for the researcher to complete the work in person or pay the standard research fee for collections staff to complete the work.

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.

Access to the following collections is restricted:

Uncataloged collections will generally not be made available to researchers.

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

The following collections management information is restricted and will only be provided to those individuals approved by the Director: 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.

The MIT Museum will not give out the address, phone number, or other contact information of living alumni/ae. Patrons researching this information should contact the MIT Alumni/ae 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 generally not made available except by special arrangement.

Publication Policy

Written permission must be obtained from the Museum to use reproductions in any publication or product. The Museum will only grant reproduction permission for materials in which MIT is the copyright holder or for which there are no restrictions in terms of intellectual property rights. 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.

A signed Permission to Use Agreement, Plans Use Agreement, or Permission to Build Agreement and paid permission fees are required prior to any publication or other use. For further information for boatbuilders see Hart Nautical Plan Policy. For the purposes of the Permission to Use Agreement, a single edition is defined as having a single physical format, a single date of production, and a single market. Any change in content constitutes a separate edition. Revised editions, foreign language editions, or other format changes, except for a paperback version of the original edition, will be subject to additional permission fees per format.

Reproductions for Decorative Purposes

Policies for reproduction for decorative purposes are under review; such requests are filled at the discretion of the assigned curator.

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