Analytical Sampling

Analytical Sampling

The Museum encourages a multidisciplinary approach to collections research. In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate to remove samples, conduct invasive tests, or otherwise modify items in the collection in order to maximize their research potential. Decisions about the appropriateness of such requests must balance the legitimate needs of the scholarly and scientific community with the long-term preservation of the collections, including future research needs.

The Museum supports the judicious sampling of its collections in situations determined to afford significant information not available through non-destructive examination. Analytical sampling includes any procedure for which a sample of any size is removed from an object or any procedure that permanently alters an object macroscopically. The Museum is always mindful that analytical sampling requests require the removal of original materials, which, once removed, are no longer available for further study.

Analytical sampling requests are reviewed by the Collections Review Committee (CRC) and a recommendation made to the Director. Only the Director has the authority to approve or decline analytical sampling requests. Permission for the analytical sampling of PMAE collections must be sought by all researchers, including outside researchers, PMAE curators and staff, and Harvard University students and faculty.

For additional information, including testing for collections subject to NAGPRA, see Analytical Sampling Policies and Procedures.

Non-Invasive Analysis

Non-invasive analysis encompasses any procedure conducted on PMAE collections that does not require the permanent alteration of an object. This includes but is not limited to, pXRF, X-ray, CT scan, and Micro-CT scan as well as analysis using other optical and spectral imaging tools.

Approval of non-invasive analysis proposals is generally determined by the appropriate Collections Steward in consultation with conservation staff and the appropriate Collections Department Head. Proposals requiring extensive staff time or the use of fragile or sensitive collections may require further consultation and approvals.

Please send your written request by email to or by mail to Registrar, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Mass. 02138.