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Research & Collections :: Collections at the State Museum :: Biology
NYSM Ornithology Policy Regarding Destructive Sampling

Statement of Basic Principles:
It is the policy of the New York State Museum to foster and promote research on its collections consistent with the preservation and protection of the collections for the use and enjoyment of future generations. To this end, the Museum considers requests for destructive sampling and technical analysis of objects in its care when the potential contribution to scientific knowledge outweighs the defacement or loss of a specimen. The policies outlined here pertain to destructive sampling of traditional ornithological specimens (skins, skeletons, and alcoholics) as well as samples in the NYSM collection of frozen tissues.

Requests for destructive sampling will be considered in light of the following criteria:

  1. The scientific purpose and merit of the study.

  2. The appropriateness of the proposed analytical methods.

  3. The demonstrated competence of the researcher with the proposed methods.

  4. The proposed dissemination of the results of the analysis and publication track record of researcher.

  5. The potential to compromise future analyses.

  6. The availability, or rarity, of equivalent material.

  7. The suitability of the NYSM specimen for this study and availability of possibly better suited specimens in collections elsewhere.

  8. The demonstrated contribution by the researcher to natural history museum collections, with preference given to museum researchers that collect specimens.

Special concern is warranted for certain classes of object such as type specimens, objects of special scientific, historic, or monetary value, or objects not well represented in the New York State Museum's collections.


Researchers who wish to sample an accessioned specimen or object must submit a written Destructive Sampling Request addressing the criteria enumerated above and return it to Dr. Jeremy Kirchman, Curator of Birds at the New York State Museum, 3140 CEC, Albany, NY 12230. The Request may be submitted electronically as an email attachment to

Requests will be evaluated and approved by the Curator, who will also approve selection of the objects to be sampled. Under certain circumstances NYSM staff will consider performing the sampling if the researcher requests. Sampling requests will generally be treated as loans. All samples and any portions thereof not destroyed during analysis must be returned to the Museum. If specimens requested by a researcher are to be totally consumed, the researcher's request will be treated as a request to deaccession specimens, and will be governed by deaccessioning policies and procedures.

The researcher is required to supply the Curator with a short summary report and copies of all reports, publications, or unpublished manuscripts which refer to the borrowed material. The researcher is required to notify the Curator of any database deposits. NYSM must be given credit for supplying material in any publications or database deposits.

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