The History department of the Milwaukee Public Museum supports and encourages the use of the collections and documentation for research, educational, and exhibition purposes. Any reasonable and appropriate request for access is considered. Given the significance and sensitivity of the collections, however, certain guidelines have been established to govern access, publication, and/or other uses of the Museum's cultural collections and related documentation.
Availability of collections and their documentation for research is determined by the appropriate History staff, subject to the condition of the materials, applicable state and federal laws (including copyright), donor restrictions, and consideration of issues of cultural sensitivity. Some materials, such as objects on loan, on exhibit, in process of conservation, or currently in use by other researchers, may be unavailable for study at any given point. Access is granted solely at the discretion of the supervising curator. Times of access to collections are 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, excluding the lunch period from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Access will not be granted on evenings or weekends. Unsupervised access to collections areas is not permitted and no one under 18 is allowed. Access to archival materials not housed in the Anthropology or History departments must be arranged through the MPM Library and Archives.
Visitors are asked to make written application at least three weeks, but preferably six weeks, in advance of their visit with the curator in charge of the collections to which access is desired. This requires a letter or email to the History Collections Manager, describing the collection or specific objects to be studied, the nature of the research being undertaken, the requested dates of access, and any special circumstances relating to the request. College or university students must have requests verified by a faculty member or other responsible professional. Walk-in access is not permitted, nor will such requests be considered by staff. Museum Visitor Assistants can either provide the name and number of a specific staff person with whom scheduled access can later be arranged, or the VA can attempt to contact the department by telephone so that the visitor can make arrangements directly with the appropriate staff person. Visitors under Public Law 101-601 (NAGPRA) should direct their inquiries to the Anthropology Collections Manager (see separate NAGPRA Policies and Procedures document).
All requests for access are granted subject to curatorial review and availability of staff and workspace. Approval will be confirmed via telephone or email. Only visitors having a confirmed appointment may be granted access to collections and archives. All MPM security procedures must be followed, and in signing the Researcher Application form upon arrival, visitors agree to abide by MPM policies. Smoking, eating, drinking, pencils, bags, briefcases, and coats are not allowed in and around collections areas.
History staff does not provide photographic services. The Museum Photo Library can provide prints for some objects and for archival images, or high-resolution digital images. Reproduction rights and fees are provided on request from the MPM Photo Library. Collections photography can be arranged through the MPM Photo Library through an MPM-approved contract photographer.
The Museum accepts requests to grant the right to use and reproduce material in its collections or for which it holds copyright, and reserves the right to determine appropriate charges for such use. Publication of any material requires written permission from the Museum and any holders of the copyright where necessary. Field notes and research notes made during MPM supported research and fieldwork are generally regarded as the property of the Museum, but clarification on this issue may be required in particular instances, and should be requested well in advance. All requests for use of copyrighted material must be authorized by both the supervising curator for the collection involved and the MPM Senior Vice President/Academic Dean.