Visitor Photography Policy

You and your camera are welcome here at the Spurlock Museum. In accordance with the Museum’s mission, we encourage photography of our collections, exhibit spaces, building facilities, and exterior.

We encourage you to interact with the Museum through social media. You can share images from your visit on social media as long as they are not used for profit or marketing purposes. Use the #SpurlockMuseum hashtag to share your experiences at the Museum and to connect with others. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Members of the press/media and students doing class assignments: you are welcome to take pictures using handheld equipment. If you need to use a tripod or other equipment, please read the Special Request for Photography section below. If you need to interview a staff person, please contact at least 3 business days before your deadline.

Visitor Photography Guidelines

Photography is allowed inside the Museum galleries and other public spaces at any time the Museum is open to the general public.

Please follow these guidelines:

  • Do not use flash or external lighting of any kind.
  • Do not photograph any areas with posted “No Photography” signs.
  • Do not touch, lean, climb, sit, or place items on the exhibit platforms, interpretive panels, display cases, or walls.
  • Only use hand-held equipment. Tripods, monopods, extension cords, etc. are prohibited.
  • Do not use selfie sticks.

If you do not comply with these guidelines, the Museum reserves the right to deny further permission to photograph in the Museum and to request that you leave the premises.

Use of Images

Photos taken at the Museum can be used for personal, non-commercial purposes.

Copyright and Publication

The Museum does not own copyright of images taken by a non-staff photographer. Whenever images of the Museum or our collections are published, we ask that the photographer identify the Museum as "The Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign."

If the image includes individual objects from the collection, we recommend that the accession number of each object be published along with the image. We can provide this information.

We can provide images of our collections for publication and commercial use. Please refer to our Access and Use of Museum Images and Recordings Policy for instructions.

Commercial Photography

Permission to film or photograph the Museum’s exhibit galleries, facilities, and collections 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 and the appropriateness of the project’s association with the Museum. To submit a commercial photography request, contact the Registrar.

Giving Photographs to the Museum

If you are interested in giving the Museum originals or copies of your photographs, you should initiate contact with the Registrar. This offer is considered a potential donation and will be handled according to the Museum’s Acquisitions Policy.

Related Policy:

Acquisitions Policy

Special Requests for Photography

In addition to encouraging day-to-day visitor photography of exhibit galleries and public Museum spaces, we also support special requests for photography. Subject to certain criteria, the Museum accommodates any reasonable requests to:

  • photograph objects not on public exhibit,
  • photograph in non-public Museum spaces,
  • photograph objects using flash or lighting equipment, and
  • photograph using additional equipment (e.g. tripods, monopods, extension cords, etc.).

The Museum also possesses thousands of professional images of collections, exhibits, and facilities that may meet your needs. Please see the Access and Use of Museum Images and Recordings Policy or contact the Registrar for more information.

Submitting a Special Request for Photography

To make a request for special photography, contact the Registrar and submit details of the request. Registration staff will work with you to complete the Terms for Special Requests for Photography Form. When Registration staff is unavailable, requests can be made to the Assistant Director of Education.

Requests for special photography should be made in advance to ensure staff availability to fulfill your request.

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

External Forms and Contracts

In most cases, special requests for photography 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
  • potential damage to objects in the collections
  • ability to complete the photography with minimal disruption to visitors, tours, and Museum events
  • 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
  • compliance with copyright policy, laws, or regulations established by the University, state, and federal government

Conditions for Special Request Photography

To conduct special photography, you will need to understand and agree to the following conditions as listed on the Terms for Special Requests for Photography Form:
  • Do not handle objects and display furniture unless you have received express permission to do so by supervising staff.
  • Use only flash and lighting setups that have been approved by the Museum. For the preservation of the objects, you will keep lighting intensity and the period of exposure to a minimum at all times.

If any image is to be published:

  • identify the Spurlock Museum in publication as: 'The Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign'
  • provide the Spurlock Museum with one copy, free of charge, of the publication with images. 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.

If you do not comply with these guidelines, the Museum reserves the right to deny further permission to photograph in the Museum and to request that you leave the premises.