South Florida Collections Management Center Access and Use Guidelines

Collections located in storage area in the Daniel Beard Center


The South Florida Collections Management Center (SFCMC) manages museum collections from Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, De Soto National Memorial, Dry Tortugas National Park and Everglades National Park. These collections represent significant resources documenting the natural and cultural history of south Florida and offer ongoing research potential to both NPS and non-NPS researchers.

Museum collection storage facilities are not public areas. For the preservation and security of the museum collections, access is limited. There are occasions, however, when visitors may have legitimate access to collections in storage. Examples of legitimate use include scientific, historical or cultural research, exhibit planning and development, and educating parks’ staffs about the resources and administrative histories of the south Florida parks.

Director’s Order 24 (NPS Museum Collection Management section 4.3.23) requires promotion of access to cataloged collections for research and interpretive purposes through a variety of means and media. Access must:

  1. Not conflict with federal or state legislation or National Park Service policies pertaining to Freedom of Information Act disclosures, copyright, privacy, publicity, obscenity and pornography, defamation and resource protection.

  2. Include documentation of access and use with a researcher logbook, signed access policy statement, researcher registration, copyright and privacy restriction statement, and duplication forms.

Purpose and Scope

These guidelines serve two purposes. First, they state the conditions placed upon visitors for access to and use of the museum collections. Second, they outline the level of customer service that visitors and researchers should expect from staff at the SFCMC. These guidelines must be made available to anyone seeking access to the museum collection. Unless otherwise noted, these guidelines encompass access to all museum objects, scientific specimens, archival collections, museum collection records, and information about these park resources created by staff in the course of their official duties, subject to legal restrictions, managed by the SFCMC.

Definition of Visitors

For the purpose of these guidelines, visitors are defined as any person outside of SFCMC staff. This includes, but is not limited to, other staff from the National Park Service, volunteers, maintenance workers and technicians, members of the public, researchers, and other interested parties.

Hours of Operation

The museum collection will be accessible Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. by appointment only. Refer to current contact information on the center’s web site:

Customer Service

  1. Requests for access and use will be received with courtesy and visitors will receive a timely response.

  2. SFCMC staff endeavors to make the parks’ collections available for research and study. However, staffing limitations may make it impossible to accommodate a research request on a particular day. Should such conflicts occur, SFCMC staff will work with the individual(s) to schedule alternative access dates and/or times. However, if no museum staff is available for a given time, access will be denied.

  3. Due to space limitations in the work area, only one researcher can be accommodated in the archives and one in the museum at a time.

  4. SFCMC staff reserves the right to limit access to fragile or restricted collections as preservation requires and laws permit.

General Access Conditions

  1. Visitors must be accompanied by SFCMC staff at all times.

  2. Visitors will never be left unaccompanied in the museum collection storage area.

  3. No food, beverages, animals (except service dogs), or living or dried plants may be brought into museum storage areas. Smoking is not permitted.

  4. All visitors must sign the collection storage sign-in log provided by museum staff.

  5. Visitors who do not submit research requests (i.e., visitors receiving tours of the collections) will not be allowed to touch or handle museum objects. See #11 below.

  6. Visitors must not remove any museum objects or archival documents from the collection storage areas. Everglades National Park prosecutes all thefts or attempted thefts.

  7. Visitors may not bring bags, purses, etc. (larger than wallet size) into museum storage areas and must leave them in areas designated by SFCMC staff. Lockers are provided at the Beard Center. Researchers needing to bring briefcases, laptops, etc. into the offices, lab or work rooms may do so but these objects will be subject to inspection.
    Under no circumstances will coats, bags, briefcases, etc. be used in the collection storage areas.

  8. Researchers may only use the public search function of the Interior museum catalog. Information regarding donor names and addresses, appraisals and site locations is restricted and cannot be accessed from the public search screens.

  9. SFCMC staff will pull all objects or archival documents from storage and bring them to researchers. Researchers may not “browse” the collection themselves.

  10. Researchers seeking access to the collections must show photo identification and complete a Researcher Registration Form prior to access to the collections. These forms will be considered confidential by the SFCMC staff to the full extent allowed by law. Researchers must fill out new forms as personal information and research interests change but not for each access request.

  11. Researchers must read and sign instructions for proper handling techniques before using museum objects or archival material.

  12. Researchers may work with museum objects or archives only in the areas designated by SFCMC staff. Museum objects and archives cannot be taken to offices or other unsecured areas.

  13. Only soft-lead pencils may be used during research. Pens, markers, etc. are not to be used near museum objects.

Duplication Requests

  1. Researchers wishing to obtain copies of archival materials and photographs must submit a Researcher Duplication Form. The museum staff endeavors to respond to these requests in a timely manner. However, it may not always be possible to complete the duplication while a researcher is at the park. In such cases, the copies will be sent to the researcher.

  2. Photocopying or other duplication fees apply and an additional fee may be levied for large projects requiring a substantial commitment of staff time. Requests for duplication must be prepaid.

  3. Permission to duplicate for scholarly purposes does not constitute permission to publish. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish from copyright holders.

  4. Permission to photograph objects must be obtained in advance and photographs used in publications or exhibitions must include the credit line “Courtesy of the National Park Service, [park name].” Always include the object catalog number in the photograph description.

Destructive Analysis

  1. Requests for destructive analyses must be made in writing. SFCMC staff will provide the required forms upon request.

  2. In the National Park Service, the superintendent is the accountable officer for museum collections. It is the superintendent, therefore, that approves requests for destructive analysis for objects or specimens in a park museum collection. All requests should be sent to the museum curator who will seek appropriate review and approval.

  3. Destructive analysis of rare or highly significant objects, specimens or archival items requires approval by the Southeast Regional director.

  4. If a request for destructive analysis is denied, a written justification will be provided.

Health and Safety Issues

Specimen preparation and museum collection management techniques have varied over time. For much of the twentieth century, it was common to use pesticides to treat or prevent pest infestations in museum collections. The historic application of chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, mothballs and other chemical fumigants may have directly or indirectly contaminated collection housed in the South Florida Collection Management Center. In addition, wet specimen collections require that biological specimens are preserved in formaldehyde or ethyl alcohol solutions. The deterioration of other elements of the collection (e.g., acetate film) can also result in off-gassing of acetic acid and other chemicals that may be present in the storage areas. Other, as yet undocumented, health concerns may also be present in the collections.

Museum staff will conduct research as appropriate and as funding allows. Results of such testing will be made available to researchers. In the interim, researchers should assume that collections have chemical contaminants. SFCMC staff will provide individual instruction and information for handling collections of concern prior to access.


Exhibit facilities at the five south Florida parks are open according to individual facility schedules. Visitors may not access cases or objects on exhibit. Requests to conduct research on objects on exhibit must be made of the museum curator. If a request is approved, the museum staff will remove the object(s) from exhibition and provide a work area for researchers. Please note that advance notice is required, both to remove objects from exhibit safely and to ensure their isolation before use in museum storage areas.

  1. All use of museum objects (including museum objects loaned from other institutions) in exhibitions must be coordinated through the museum curator.

  2. Planning for exhibition of museum collection objects must occur well in advance to ensure that collections can be documented, cleaned, packed and transported for exhibition.

  3. All exhibit planning must address preservation and security issues. The museum curator must review exhibit plans and will ensure that plans, designs and installations meet NPS standards for exhibition.

  4. Only museum staff will have access to exhibit cases. In remote areas of the parks this will include staff designated and trained by the museum curator to ensure that appropriate cleaning, pest management, and other preservation issues are appropriately addressed.

Denial of Access

Visitors who disregard these rules or endanger the museum collection will be denied access. Denial of access to specific objects or uses of objects for preservation or legal reasons will be provided in writing.

Last updated: November 5, 2018