Academic Programs Catalog

Other Departments and Offices for Research and Services

University Outreach and Engagement

Michigan State University Museum

Mark Auslander, Director

The MSU Museum is a multidisciplinary museum of sciences and cultural studies. The Museum's core functions are diverse. It is first and foremost an institution of learning and provides education for the widest of audiences through exhibits and related educational programs. The MSU Museum also delivers outreach programs across the state and farther afield through touring exhibits. As part of University Outreach and Engagement, the MSU Museum is committed to engaging the community with knowledge resources of MSU.

The one million objects in the Museum collections span the natural sciences (mostly vertebrate zoology and paleontology), anthropology and archaeology, history and technology, ethnology and folk and decorative arts. These collections support the Museum’s public programs – especially the exhibits - and they are also used for course work for MSU students, especially in the natural sciences and cultural and art studies. Thousands of MSU students engage with the Museum's collections through their courses each year. The collections also support active research programs, by MSU faculty and students, and researchers based around the country and internationally.

Research materials include documented collections of fossil and modern vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes), folk art and folklife, historical materials, and archaeological materials from excavations of sites of early human habitations in the upper Great Lakes region. Collections are under the care of collections managers and curators. Curators may hold joint appointments in various MSU departments. Curators also teach courses within their specialties and direct graduate student research. These collections and the fieldwork required to obtain them are closely correlated with teaching activities and strengthen the research and teaching capabilities of several academic areas. Interested students can participate in Museum fieldwork expeditions. Financial support can be available to assist research studies of students. Research contributions are published widely in refereed and popular media, and in periodic MSU Museum publications.

The MSU Museum collaborates with other academic units to offer the Specialization in Museum Studies that is administered by the Department of Art, Art History, and Design.

The MSU Museum is the home of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program, the State Folklife Program. The Museum provides technical assistance to small museums. Museum staff provide specialist advice to other museums and state agencies in areas relevant to their expertise (natural science, cultural studies, collection care, education, exhibition development).

The programs (collections, teaching, research and public programs) of the MSU Museum have a particular focus on the state of Michigan and the Great Lakes region, but also have strong national and international linkages and coverage. The Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum and is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

The MSU Museum occupies several sites on campus. The main building on West Circle Drive houses the public exhibition galleries, together with offices and some collection storage. Long term-exhibitions include Heritage Hall, Hall of World Cultures, Michigan Artists – Passing on Traditions, Hall of Evolution, Habitat Hall, Animal Diversity, and Collections-Connections In addition to the long-term displays, large and small changing exhibits, events and educational programs are featured throughout the year. Changing exhibits relate to any of the Museum disciplines and increasingly are profiling the nature and impacts of MSU research.

The MSU Museum has a flexible-function, technology-enable auditorium with seating up to 80.  The Museum is available for special events, and some galleries can provide a unique venue experience. The Museum store offers educational and gift items that relate to themes of the displays.

The main public building is open to the public and students from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday, and Wednesday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday, and closed on Sundays, University holidays, holiday weekends, and home football games. Students may arrange access to collections outside of these hours by contacting Museum staff.

Museum collections are also housed at other non-public sites around campus, which can be accessed with the appropriate curator or collections manager.

For more information, visit; call 1-517-355-2370 or email for general inquiries.