Contact Collections

Collections-related Inquiries
To request a research appointment, collections report, or tour of the object collections, see Accessing the Object Collections.

Direct inquiries about the NMAI Archive Center collections to

Search a portion of the NMAI collections, including objects and historic photographs, on the NMAI Collections Search site.

Learn about our Shared Stewardship and Ethical Returns Policy.

Please note: The NMAI became part of the Smithsonian Institution in 1989. Native American collections associated with the Smithsonian before 1989 are likely at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). The extensive Native American collections of the NMNH are distinct from those of the NMAI—the two collections have not been merged. For information about the NMNH Native American collections, visit the NMNH Anthropology Department site.

Collections Reports
The NMAI Collections Search site presents information on a representative sample of the objects and historic photographs in the museum’s collections. Comprehensive collections reports may be requested via an Object Collections Report Request.

Identification and Appraisal of Objects
Smithsonian staff are prevented by policy from authenticating, placing a value on, or appraising objects.

For identification of archaeological objects from the U.S., the state archaeologist of the state where the object was found is likely able to provide the best information. Visit the National Association of State Archaeologists website for a list of state archaeologists.

Donating or Selling Objects to the Museum
The NMAI accepts donations of items that enhance its permanent collections; not all objects offered for donation are accepted. The NMAI occasionally purchases items for its permanent collections; however, acquisition funds are limited, and most purchases are initiated by the NMAI to meet specific needs. To submit a donation or purchase offer to the NMAI, complete and submit an Acquisition Proposal and attachments for consideration. Please DO NOT send or bring the item(s) to the NMAI unless specifically requested to do so.

Borrowing Objects from the Museum
Direct inquiries about loan procedures to Rachel Shabica, Registration.

Please note: The NMAI requires a minimum of 12 months' lead time for smaller domestic loans (fewer than 20 items) and 18 months for smaller international loans. Larger domestic or international loans typically require a lead time of 24 months. "Lead time" refers to the interval between the museum's receipt of a complete loan application package and the date when objects are shipped to the borrowing institution.