Current Operating Status
Access to the Paleobiology collections, through loans or in-person visits, is available on a case-by-case basis. Please note that due to limited staff availability and a high volume of requests, we may not be able to accommodate your request, or it may be postponed to a later date. Our Collections Management team will review and work with you directly about specific details and expected timeline. We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we navigate this transitionary period.
We are sincerely grateful for your interest in the Paleobiology collections. Please continue to check our site for updates to provided collections services. If you have any questions, please email Paleodept@si.edu.
Fossil Marine Mammal Collections Status
We are happy to announce that we will be reopening the fossil marine mammal collections to external researchers in early 2024. We will begin accepting requests for images, loans, and/or data on February 5, 2024. These requests can be sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be added to the general request queue for vertebrate paleontology collections. The collections will be open for research visits beginning March 4, 2024; please submit the visit request form below at least 4 weeks prior to your proposed visit dates. We will review your request and determine if your dates are feasible given staff availability.
At this time, it is unlikely we will be able to accommodate any requests related to larger fossil whale material that is stored at our offsite facility. Access to those specimens is difficult given our current capacity, but we are happy to review your request and determine what is possible.
Our ability to accommodate research visits and other requests is limited due to a decline in collections staffing and the current state of the collection. We are working on inventorying and reorganizing the collections to make the specimens more accessible, but this takes time and effort. We appreciate your patience, flexibility, and understanding as all specimens you need may not be readily available. We will do our best to notify you of any challenges when we review your request.
Date Last Updated: January 10, 2023
Visit the Collections
The Department of Paleobiology welcomes, with advanced notice, scientific researchers and their students to the collections to further their own research. We ask that all requests to visit the collections be made at least 1 month in advance. While we work to approve all visit requests, please note that some visits may be denied or rescheduled based on staffing availability and other outstanding requests.
Whether this is your first time visiting the collections or your 50th time, in order to keep track of all visit requests, we ask that you submit a new request for each visit. Please review the Visitor Information section below. All students must also submit a letter of support from their advisors, vouching for their ability to work responsibly in our collections.
Once your visit is approved you will be notified via email. Please have any additional documentation necessary (i.e. advisor approval letter, list of USNM specimen numbers) on hand to prevent any delays in scheduling your appointment. It is vital that you review the visitor guidelines prior to your visit. These guidelines are in place to protect the collections and the individuals working with them, and to ensure the security of the department. All visitors are expected to be familiar with these polices and we reserve the right to revoke visitor privileges at our discretion.