Access and Use of Museum Images and Recordings Policy

In accordance with the Museum’s mission, we encourage the use of the Museum’s images and recordings including those of:

  • objects in the Artifact, Teaching, and Props and Furnishings collections,
  • Museum activities,
  • Museum exhibits,
  • collectors and donors associated with objects in the Museum collections, and
  • subjects related to the acquisition, cultural context, and care and preservation of Museum objects

Requests to Access and Use Museum Images and Recordings

You may request access to Museum images and recordings for purposes of examination, study, research, publication, and advancement.

Access to Museum images and recordings can be provided at the Museum through appointment with the Registrar. Alternatively, you can request that physical or digital reproductions be distributed to you through post, email, or a secure website.

We will accommodate any reasonable requests for new photography of Museum collections.

Submitting a Request

To make a request for access and use of Museum images and recordings, contact the Registrar and submit details of the request. Registration staff will work with you to complete the Request for Access and Use of Museum Images and Recordings Form (PDF).

Requests to access or use Museum images and recordings should be made in advance. Staff availability will be a factor in the evaluation of any request not made in advance. Please allow approximately one month for any request to be approved by the University of Illinois.

Additions or changes to an approved request will require submitting a new request.

External Forms and Contracts

In most cases, access requests are fulfilled using standard Museum forms. However, if a Museum staff member is required to sign any photography or publication forms, agreements, or contracts written by individuals or institutions outside of the Museum, the Registrar, Director, and Office of University Counsel must be consulted. They must approve the form, agreement, or contract prior to a Museum staff signature.

Criteria for Evaluating Requests

Requests are approved on a case-by-case basis by Registration staff. If there are any special concerns, Registration staff will consult with the Director or Office of University Counsel prior to approval of a request. Requests will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • availability of Museum staff and resources to respond to the request
  • availability of existing images to fulfill the request
  • potential damage to images, recordings, and objects in the collections
  • ability to complete the request with minimal disruption to visitors, tours, and Museum events
  • compliance with copyright policy, laws, or regulations established by the University, state, and federal government
  • security concerns for the well-being of the collections and Museum operations
  • cultural sensitivity of objects and Museum policy concerning the handling and viewing of such materials

Conditions for Use of Images and Recordings

To access and use Museum images and recordings, you will need to adhere to the following conditions (as applicable) listed on the Request for Access and Use of Museum Images and Recordings Form (PDF):

  • Agree not to handle images without approved training and express permission from supervising Museum staff.
  • Understand permission is for one time use only in the project or publication as described in the request and agree to obtain further permission to use or publish the image at any time in the future.
  • Agree to publish the following credit line “Courtesy of The Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”
  • Provide the Spurlock Museum with one copy, free of charge, of any publication listed in the request. The Museum may waive this requirement for publications that are local and easily available, or if providing a copy puts undue hardship on the user.
  • Agree to reimburse the Museum for expenses incurred in responding to the request for cost of materials, duplication fees, printing costs, and/or compensation of staff time and resources. Museum staff will consult with the Director to determine the fee amount.

The Museum reserves the right to terminate the approval of a request at any time if the Museum’s criteria or the agreed-upon conditions are no longer being met.


The Museum grants permission to use images for which it holds copyright as described in this policy and the Request for Access and Use of Museum Images and Recordings Form (PDF).

The Museum’s collection includes some images and recordings for which it does not hold copyright. If the Museum doesn’t hold copyright for the requested images, it is your responsibility to determine the copyright status of the material. The Museum will provide any available information about origin and copyright, but we are not required to pursue copyright research or to acquire copyright permission on your behalf.

You—not the Museum—are solely responsible for ensuring that all appropriate copyright permissions are granted before publication. We cannot provide legal advice regarding fair use or copyright. We will only release copies for private use and research with the user’s acknowledgement of these responsibilities.

Commercial Use of Museum Images and Recordings

Use of the Museum’s collections of images and recordings for commercial (for-profit) purposes is only permitted at the discretion of the Director. Each proposed commercial project must be reviewed to determine its consistency with the Museum’s mission, appropriateness of the project’s association with Museum, and contribution to the advancement of the Museum and University.

Approved 2/4/2016.