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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 stored at the Illinois State Museum, ISM-Research and Collections Center, and ISM-Dickson Mounds. The links below lead to additional information on each collection along with links to online collections content.

ISM-Research & Collections Ctr
1011 East Ash Street
Springfield, IL 62703

(217) 785-0037

Hours: By Appointment Only

Closed: All State Holidays

Admission: 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. 

Policy on Research & Imaging of NAGPRA Collections

The Illinois State Museum (ISM) has implemented a moratorium and prohibits all previously approved, pending, ongoing, and new research and imaging of human remains (including DNA) and cultural objects subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) that are reported in the ISM’s inventory to National NAGPRA. The ISM has recalled all loans of collections in its NAGPRA inventory. Consultation is needed on these previously reported holdings, whether under claim or yet to be claimed, to determine repatriation and disposition. In pursuit of its commitment to Tribal Nations, the ISM will engage in meaningful collaboration with tribal communities and defer to their guidance on these matters.

Creation, publication, and reproduction of images of human remains and cultural objects in the ISM’s control which are subject to NAGPRA is expressly prohibited without written consent from the appropriate Tribal Nations, as determined by the ISM NAGPRA committee in consultation with Tribal representatives. Images include, but may not be limited to photography, drawings, 3D scans, CT scans, X-rays, or other depictions or illustrations of human remains and cultural objects subject to NAGPRA.

Documentation of collections by tribal representatives and designated ISM staff members to determine NAGPRA eligibility and cultural or geographical affiliation pursuant to NAGPRA is not considered new research under this policy. Any images generated during documentation will be for internal use only and not available to researchers or the public.  

More information on NAGPRA is available from the National NAGPRA Program.

Approved by the Illinois State Museum Board of Directors, June 14, 2021.

Fine Art 
The fine arts collection documents the progression and history of art in Illinois. It is the only such public collection 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 collection contains more than 18,000 objects that enhance understanding of the quality of life in Illinois from pre-statehood to today. The collection has particularly strong holdings of textiles and women's handcrafts.

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.