Research Requests and Onsite Research

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 of $30/hour 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.

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 Reference Inquiry 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.

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.

Pictured: "Minsky Arm," Marvin Minsky. 


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