Tissues for genetic analysis need to be stored in a way that preserves their DNA. Freezing is considered to be one of the best available methods to accomplish this. The AMCC is therefore optimized to archive frozen tissues. Fluid-preserved specimens can also benefit from being transferred into frozen storage.
Tissues accepted for the museum's collections should meet the following general conditions:
- The specimens are relevant to and consistent with the purposes and activities of the AMCC.
- The AMCC can provide for the storage and preservation of the specimens under conditions that ensure their availability and meet with professionally accepted standards for collection preservation.
- It is intended that specimens shall remain in the collections as long as they retain their physical integrity and their relevance for the purposes of the AMCC.
- The specimens are associated with data, ideally with a voucher specimen housed in a research collection.
- All acquisitions, whether obtained through direct collection in the field, gifts, loans, exchanges, or purchases, must be obtained legally and must be accompanied by supporting documentation.
- Specimens known or suspected to contain disease organisms of potential danger to humans will not be accepted.
Potential specimen acquisitions shall be brought to the attention of the Curator-in-Charge who, in consultation with the AMCC Oversight Committee, will accept or decline.
Tissue samples associated with voucher specimens which are formally accessioned into one of the traditional AMNH collections will be deemed to have been accessioned under the responsibility of the signatory division chair, which will be taken as sufficient evidence that the specimen(s) have been obtained legally. Documentation of such is assumed to be maintained in the division of origin. When questions arise as to the legality of the specimens being transferred, the question will be turned over to the Office of the Provost for review.
In the case of any proposed acquisition entailing certain restrictions on the Museum, as set out in the Museum's Collection Policy, the Curator-in-Charge shall bring the matter to the attention of the Provost and the President. The approval of the Provost and President shall be required for all acquisitions entailing a restriction on the Museum as to title, right of possession, care, loan, or other special restrictions, and all acquisitions requiring special expenditures.
In the case of any disagreement or conflict among the curatorial staff concerning accessions into the tissue collection, such disagreements will be brought to the attention of the Provost's Office if deemed necessary or not resolvable by the AMCC Oversight Committee.
3. Accessioning Specimens
All tissue specimens that are acquired for the AMCC must be brought to the attention of the Curator-in-Charge of the AMCC or his delegate, who will be responsible to ensure that they are formally accessioned as museum specimens by the Museum Registrar.
Tissue specimens not associated with an accessioned AMNH voucher may be accessioned into the AMCC regardless of the existence or disposition of the voucher. As part of the accession procedure, copies of all supporting documentation associated with the acquisition of the specimen, including collecting permits, import and export permits, customs forms, and relevant correspondence, will be retained in AMCC.
4. Undocumented Specimens
In accordance with the Museum's general Collection Policy, the AMCC will not hold undocumented specimens.
Supporting documents and data should be presented at the same time as the tissue.
5. Collecting in the Field
Direct acquisition during field research and expeditions shall be conducted with the agreement of and according to the laws of the host state or country as well as those of the USA. In case of fieldwork conducted jointly with other museums, universities, or similar research organizations, a written agreement regarding allocation and use of field collections shall be sought and obtained, where possible, prior to the fieldwork. All reasonable steps shall be taken to ensure that importation of foreign specimens into the USA is in full compliance with all applicable laws.
6. Gifts or Donations
In the event that the AMCC seeks to acquire specimen(s) through gift or donation, written confirmation of title shall be obtained in advance from the donor.
No specimen(s) will be accepted without adequate evidence of title on the part of the donor.
Ownership shall be transmitted to the Museum by way of a legal instrument of conveyance, setting forth an adequate description of the objects in question, which shall be signed by the donor. Such legal title (which is equivalent to ownership) shall document the right to transfer ownership to the museum.
Except under unusual circumstances, any object acquired by gift or donation shall be obtained free and clear of any restrictions as to use or future disposition. Restricted acquisitions will require approval of the Office of the Provost.
7. Permanent Loans
The AMCC shall not accept material on "permanent" loan, except in cases where objects or collections are owned by government agencies or institutions whose own collection policies do not allow for transfer of title.
In cases where a permanent loan is required, the process for approval shall be the same as that specified for acquisitions. Permanent and long-term loans or custodial arrangements shall be documented in writing and signed by the lender. The document shall address:
- The purpose of the loan.
- Rights to use the material and subsequent publication of results.
- Financial obligations to be borne by each party.
- The duration of the loan and the right of the Museum to return the loan.
- Ethical and legal obligations of the Museum during custody and upon termination of the loan.
Specimen(s) purchased by the AMCC shall be obtained from a supplier, individual or institution who shall demonstrate, in writing, that they are in possession of full and unencumbered title to the specimen(s), and that acquisition of the specimen(s) by the supplier was in full compliance with all local, state and Federal laws. The Curator-in-Charge shall review the ethical and legal aspects of the transaction. In the event that any questions arise, the Provost shall be consulted and, if necessary, advice of legal counsel shall be sought. If the purchase of the specimen(s) would require special expenditures on the part of the Museum (beyond the cost of acquisition) the approval of the Provost and President will be required. The additional approval of the Collections Committee is required where the price and special expenditures exceed $25,000.00, or where the transaction entails restrictions that the Provost and president deem material. A legal instrument of conveyance, setting forth an adequate description of the objects involved and the precise conditions of transfer shall accompany the purchase and shall be signed by the seller. The AMCC shall permanently retain invoices, bills of sale, and receipts relating to the purchase.