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Special Collections

Special Collections may be contacted by phone (212)769-5420 or by email

Research Appointments

Conducting research in Special Collections is by appointment only and requires a formal Request for Access to Special Collections.

The applicant must clearly state the purpose of the research, include a brief description of the project, and attach a resume or CV. Please submit the application at least two weeks in advance. A photo ID must be presented by the researcher upon arrival. All research must be conducted by the researcher -- Special Collections staff do not provide this service, but are available to provide specialized advice on how to conduct research within the collections.

Rare Book Collection

Please see our Rare Book Collection page for more information.

Archives in Museum Scientific Departments

Please note that many of the Museum’s Scientific Departments maintain additional archival collections including field notebooks, personal papers, departmental records, photographs, slides, and digital images. To conduct research in Museum Scientific Departmental archives, please contact the specific Department directly. Go to Our Research for links to each Department's site and contact information.

Artifact or Specimen Collections

Visit Our Research for links to each Department's site and contact information if you need to conduct research within the Museum artifact or specimen collections. Please note that the Scientific Staff are not generally available to answer questions or identify artifacts of any kind, except during the Museum's annual "Identification Day." Please check our program listings for more details on Museum events.

General Policies on the Use of Archival Materials in the Library
  • All guests must sign in at the front desk. 
  • Outerwear, briefcases, and bags must be stored in the designated lockers.
  • The use of pens, portable copiers and scanners is prohibited.
  • Pencils, paper, laptops, and digital cameras without flash may be used.
  • Materials must be viewed within the folder, flat on the table, one item at a time.
  • Maintain original order of all materials.
  • No photocopying or scanning of archival materials; digital cameras without flash are acceptable.
  • No marks, erasures, or tracings may be made on any archival material.
  • Archival materials may not leave the Library Reading Room. 
  • Smoking, eating, drinking, or gum chewing is prohibited in any part of the Library.
  • The Library reserves the right to inspect personal articles brought into the area.
Public Access Policies

Permission to examine archival collections will be granted subject to whatever restriction may have been placed on the manuscripts by donors or on institutional records by their American Museum of Natural History department or office of origin. For additional information about possible restrictions please contact Special Collections.

ACRL/SAA Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections Libraries

Conditions for Reproduction and Licensing

Permission to obtain copies of images, film, or materials from the archives and manuscripts collection will be granted upon request, subject to any restrictions that may govern the use of the collection and the need to preserve fragile materials that may be damaged by copying. The reproduction of material from the Archives is for sole use in research or private study, and is provided as a convenience for scholars. Therefore, this material must not be transferred to another individual or institution, without the written permission from the Museum Research Library.

Please note that archives, manuscripts, rare, fragile, and oversize materials may not be photocopied or scanned. When conducting research, digital cameras without flash may be used to photograph the materials for personal reference.

Separate application for permission to cite or to publish materials must be made to Special Collections. See Reproduction and Licensing for more information.


The researcher is responsible for conforming to copyright and other applicable statutes. The American Museum of Natural History is not necessarily the owner of copyrights of unpublished manuscripts in its collections and permission to publish must be obtained from the owners, the Museum, or otherwise. 

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
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