Illinois State Museum Collections

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.

Illinois State Museum: Research and Collections Center

Illinois State Museum-
Research & Collections Center
1011 East Ash Street
Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 785-0037

Mon-Fri: 10-4:00
By Appointment Only 
Closed: All State Holidays.

There is a large parking lot on site, parking is free. 

Free.  Open to public only during programs or by appointment. 
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 under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Research requests that impact NAGPRA-eligible individuals and objects will be deferred until a policy is in place. This includes, but is not limited to, requests to conduct destructive analysis, to publish results from analysis of NAGPRA-subject materials, and for photos and drawings of burials. We anticipate receiving additional, culturally-sensitive requests and those will be handled on a case-by-case basis until a policy is in place.

Fine and Decorative Arts

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.