The father of a friend of mine passed away recently. He left behind an extensive collection of fossils and minerals. They include a saber tooth tiger skull, mastodon tooth, shark teeth, tons of trilobites, ammonites and others. Some are in good enough shape to be museum quality and some are probably quite valuable.

His father expressed an interest in making sure that the collection was made available hands-on to those who wanted to view or study them rather than be behind glass. I know that some museums provide hands-on access to some items in their collection.

My friend has been in contact with some museums but could use some help in identifying schools or other programs where they would be used as his father wanted. We are in Indiana in the US. Any suggestions?

  • $\begingroup$ I'd think your first move would be to contact nearby universities. My neighbor who died recently gave much of his considerable mineral & Indian artifact collection to one. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Nov 27, 2018 at 4:08

1 Answer 1


I work for an university collection and wo often deal with donations. If you contact a museum or university collection, be prepared for the following questions:

  • How many fossils are approximately included in the collection?
  • How were they acquired? Were they bought on fossil fairs? Were they self collected?
  • What's the weight of the collection? Sounds weird, but this is important for storage calculation.
  • Is there a list including all specimen?
  • Are all objects properly identified and labeled? This includes the following information: Find locality, Genus, if possible species, geological time including finer stratigraphy. Examples: Diplodocus carnegie, Upper Jurassic, Morrison Formation, Wyoming or Kallokibotion bajazidi, Upper Cretaceous, Maastrichtian, Sanpetru, Romania. The more information, the better!

Why are these questions so important? If you want the objects to be "hands-on" for example for students studying these objects, they have to be properly identified. No student or researcher can work with "trilobite of unknown age and source". All collections provide hands-on research for those who request it. We do the same. I have a lot of guests coming to our collection wanting to see Triassic ichtyhosaurs, golden ammonites from Opalinus Clay or anything else. In this cases, I prepare all fossils for hands-on access.

In your case, I would recommend the Paleontological Collection of the Indiana University. The collection is quite famous, often visited, and has a very good recommendation all over the world.

See here for their webpage


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