Artifacts and Specimen at Approved Museums and Repositories

State-Approved Museums and Curatorial Repositories

According to the Historical, Prehistorical, and Archaeological Resources Act of 1973 (as amended 1990; C.R.S. 24-80-401ff), the State of Colorado claims title to all artifacts and fossil specimens recovered from State, county, city, town, district, or other political subdivision of State lands. Most State artifacts and fossil collections are held in trust as part of a collaborative partnership with county and local museums or curatorial repositories to ensure long-term preservation and interpretation of these items. These institutions help to preserve, interpret and promote the natural and cultural inheritance of humanity in Colorado and work in close collaboration with the communities from which their collections originate as well as those they serve. These collections are managed consistent with the standards stipulated in the Rules and Procedures of Section 9 of 8 CCR 1504-7.  Those holding archaeological or paleontological collecting permits are required to facilitate the curation of recovered artifacts and specimens with an approved museum, curatorial repository or an on-site repository.


Allowed Practices for Approved Museums/Curatorial Repositories:
  • Approved museums or curatorial repositories and History Colorado may charge a competitive deposit fee for the collections and reasonable administrative processing fees for “curation” or similarly worded “intent-to-curate” agreements with permittees (see the State rules and procedures).
  • Approved museums or curatorial repositories may fully exhibit and charge reasonable nondiscriminatory admission fees to view these items prepared for interpretive display (see the State rules and procedures).
  • Approved museums may photograph and nondestructively study the state collection (see the State rules and procedures).
  • A held-in-trust state collection may be loaned out by an approved museum or curatorial repository to other institutions and organizations (including for temporary exhibition) by securing a loan agreement between the other facilities (see the State rules and procedures).
  • All approved museums, curatorial repositories, on-site agencies, or institutions holding state collections are encouraged to enhance their collections management care and their facility space requirements for the state collection to achieve, maintain or exceed their reputable status.
  • Approved museums, curatorial repositories, on-site agencies, or institutions holding state collections may consider applying for project specific collection needs from the State Historical Fund and seek other funding sources to enhance the collections care of these held-in-trust state collections.
  • Other sources of assistance available to approved museums/repositories may be contracting or negotiating use by current university museum studies students, museum professional consulting firms or utilizing trained volunteer members from established state nonprofit organizations such as the Colorado Archaeological Society or the Western Interior Paleontological Society.
Office of the State Archaeologist Support and Mentoring:
  • The Office of the State Archaeologist’s State Curation Coordinator provides guidance to current and previously approved museums, curatorial repositories, on-site agencies, or institutions related to the care of held-in-trust collections.
  • The Office of the State Archaeologist's State Curation Coordinator manages the reporting needs of held-in-trust collections with approved museums, curatorial repositories, on-site agencies or institutions.
  • With available data, the Office of the State Archaeologist's State Curation Coordinator links (PDF/A OCR, Excel spreadsheet) held-in-trust collection’s inventories to the state’s cultural resource database to aid researchers in locating collections.
  • The Office of the State Archaeologist facilitates a university collections internship program and offers volunteer training opportunities for state collections-care.
  • The Office of the State Archaeologist also promotes the study and public exhibition of held-in-trust collections to researchers and museum studies students whenever possible.​​​​​​

Navigate directly to a section:

Information for Museums and Curatorial Repositories Repository Guidance Library Information for Students and Volunteers Information for Archaeologists/Paleontologists and Researchers


Information for Museums and Curatorial Repositories:

The official rules and procedures that all State-approved facilities follow:

The official form/application and agreement to begin or renewal for State-approved status: (Please note on-site held-in trust agreements are developed separately)

A reference manual updated periodically for archaeological collections care in State-approved repositories:

Official State-Approved museum/repository loan agreement guidelines for state collections: 

Repository Guidance Library:

The 2019 Curation Alliance Forum:

This open gathering on state archaeological and paleontological held-n-trust collections for partner museums and repositories took place at Colorado State University, Anthropology Department, Fort Collins, CO on November 9, 2019. Please click HERE for slide presentations and agenda from the 2019 Curation Alliance Forum.

This is a template for updating or developing your mandatory collection's management policy:

Developed by the Council for State Archivists and adapted by WESTPAS (Western States and Territories Preservation Assistance Service) this pocket template has been modified for Colorado State-approved museums/repositories to complete their mandatory emergency plan: 

Prepared by Michelle K. Knoll and Bruce B. Huckell for the Society for American Archaeology's Committee on Museums, Collections and Curation, these guidelines offer invaluable advice for museums/repositories and archaeologists:

Developed by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), these workflow instructions provide step by step directions to make custom archival boxes and packages for archaeological collections:

These instructions developed by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) provide step by step custom mountmaking procedures:

Excel calculator tool to figure the proper archival box cutting size for anthropology mountmaking & re-boxing collections developed by Bethany Williams while at DMNS:

State-Approved Museums/Repositories Network Newsletter:
Curation Notes - Newsletter of the State-Approved Museums and Repositories Program

To subscribe to the Curation Notes e-newsletter for Colorado State-Approved Museums and Curatorial Repositories e-mail

Repository Confab

What exactly is a "confab" you might ask? According to various dictionaries a "con•fab",(kŏn′făb″), short for confabulation, means)► n. a casual talk; a conversation or chat. These chats are intended for each of our repository partners and those planning to join the program to provide an opportunity to share information with each other as well to provide repository updates. If you are interested in joining us for the next Confab and you didn't receive the program invitation just email

Information for Students and Volunteers:

As part of the Office of the State Archaeologist support for the curation partnership network, we facilitate a university collections internship program and offer volunteer training opportunities and assistance arrangements for state collections-care.

Volunteer training opportunities:

Information on the Program for Avocational Archaeological Certification (PAAC) laboratory class instruction can be found at this site HERE. (this class training is offered periodically, please check the PAAC schedule for details)

Current Volunteer Opportunities:

Trained and experienced archaeology volunteers are currently needed for artifact analysis, data entry and re-housing  of U.S. Forest-Service collections at the History Colorado Center in Denver. General inquiries on this opportunity should first be directed to Todd McMahon, at  

Looking for research ideas on thesis or capstone projects?

This is a suggested list of State collections that may assist you on choosing a State collection that may need re-analysis and re-housing as part of a thesis or capstone project:

Internship opportunities working with State collections are regularly announced with History Colorado during the Spring and Fall semester seasons.

Information for Archaeologists/Paleontologists and Researchers:

The official updated list of State-approved museums and curatorial repositories in Colorado:

Permitted researchers are expected to secure curation agreements with the closest geographically accepting State-Approved repository to their tested, excavated or collected sites. (Note: History Colorado in Denver serves the entire State generally only if no local repositories are available) Please check the map below:

This is a list of archaeological and paleontological sites with state held-in-trust collections and the name of the corresponding repository or repositories: (Please note: This list is not comprehensive and will be updated periodically. Please let us know of errors and omissions with State collections. The Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP) also tracks some private and some Federal collection repository information which is not reflected in this list. If you are seeking the repository location of any non-State collections you should make an inquiry using OAHP's database and site file records.)    

The official State of Colorado guidelines for archaeologists to follow for preparing collections for deposit at a State-approved facility: 

This form and inventory must be prepared by researchers with a State permit and signed-off by the repository representative as proof of collection deposit and a copy forwarded to the State Curation Coordinator: 

Optional Excel template for a collection inventory:

Please fill-out this form for requesting permission to perform destructive analysis research on a State collection:

Please fill-out this form for requesting permission to transport artifacts or specimen out of the State of Colorado for non-destructive analysis/preparation:

Looking for a Curation agreement with History Colorado (HC)? Please note that History Colorado serves only as a backup in case regional and local State-approved repositories are not available (current HC deposit fee policy is included in this PDF). Please email the completed form back to the State Curation Coordinator:

Further Archaeology and Paleontology Permit information on this site.