The Illinois State Museum maintains collections of art, history, anthropology, and natural history which are critical resources to its education, research, publication, and exhibition programs. The Museum collections focus on the Midwestern U.S. with an emphasis on Illinois.
The Museum’s collections are held at the Illinois State Museum, Research and Collections Center, and Dickson Mounds Museum. The links below lead to additional information on each collection along with links to online collections content.
Research & Collections Center
Springfield, IL 62703
By Appointment Only
Closed: All State Holidays.
- The anthropology collection consists of more than 8 million archaeological specimens and ethnographic objects. It is among the most extensive in the United States.
At this time the ISM is developing a human remains policy and we anticipate board review and approval in 2021. This policy will provide guidance for research requests and demonstrate a sustained commitment to the return of Indigenous ancestors. While we are working on this policy, research requests that impact NAGPRA-eligible individuals and objects will be deferred until a policy is in place. This may include but is not limited to all requests to conduct destructive analysis and requests to publish results from the same and requests for photos and drawings of burials. We anticipate additional, culturally-sensitive requests and those will be handled on a case-by-case basis until a policy is in place. We encourage you to work directly with Indigenous leaders and culture keepers.
- The fine arts collection documents the progression and history of art in Illinois. It is the only such public collection in Illinois. The decorative arts collection contains more than 14,000 aesthetic and historical objects that enhance understanding of the quality of life in Illinois.
- The botanical collection includes more than 111,000 botanical specimens that are housed in the herbarium. The Museum has one of the largest collections of Illinois flora in the state.
- The geology collection contains over 200,00 specimens, including 60 type and figured invertebrates, 6 fish types, and over 600 type and figured plant fossils.
- The history collections include interdisciplinary collections that cut across the departments of art, anthropology, library and archives, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and natural sciences.
- Library and Archives
- The rich and diverse library collection contains more than 15,000 monographs and 800 serials. Additional materials include rare books, archives and manuscript collections.
- The zoology collection contains over 140,000 specimens representing mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and mollusks.