Curation of Archaeology Collections Under Repository Agreements

Repository agreement

To obtain a standard repository agreement with the Minnesota Historical Society, the Principal Investigator(s) at an organization and, if separate staff hold the position, the Archaeology Lab Manager(s), must attend a training session to review repository standards and procedures. This training must be updated every year an agreement is requested, unless trained staff remain with the contracting organization and there have been no changes in the standards and procedures set forth by the Historical Society.

Trained depositors may request a new agreement at the beginning of each calendar year by contacting Dan Cagley at 651-259-3253 or by e-mail at Please provide firm name, name of trained staff member, complete address, FAX and telephone numbers, name and title of responsible contact staff.

Depositors' Work Flow for collections curation at the Minnesota Historical Society

Appendix, forms, and documents required for submission of collections under an MNHS repository agreement

Cataloging table and associated documents

Archaeology collections methods

Curation fees

Those who use the Minnesota Historical Society as a repository for collections should be aware of MNHS fee policies as they plan and budget for contracts. The fee structure, revised in February 2005, is based on an assessment of the curation process at the Society, consultation with other repositories around the country, and comparison with national standards documented in the National Park Service nationwide curation fees survey ("Costs of Curating Archeological Collections: A Study of Repository Fees in 2002 and 1997/98").

The basic charge of $475 for one cubic foot/b-box breaks down as follows:

  • processing fee = $75
  • storage fee = $285
  • indirect costs = $115

Processing fee: to cover the personnel costs to process collections upon deposit at the repository, such as inspection of artifacts and accompanying documentation, artifact rehousing and storage, database documentation, etc., per accession group incurred by the Collections Manager, Senior Curator, Secretary, and other staff as needed.

Storage fee: a one-time fee per curated box/cubic foot for "long term" storage.

Indirect costs: MNHS requires each funded accession to recover the costs of physical plant maintenance and contract administration under the heading of Indirect Costs. The rate is 33% and will be applied once per accession group to Box 1.

Frequently asked questions

What comprises a typical or standard curation fee?

The scope of the Society's standard Repository Agreement addresses collections no larger than two cubic feet or two b-boxes. Example: The typical Curation Fee consists of a $475 one-time fee per b-box or cubic foot of collections. This includes collections from one accession source number and its associated records. There is no longer a separate fee assessed for associated record materials. If a firm brings in two boxes for one accession group, the charge would be $760 ($475 for Box 1 plus an additional $285 for Box 2).

What if my firm has several small collections that could all be housed in one b-box?

For multiple accessions in one b-box, there would still be only the single b-box/cubic foot storage charge, but a processing fee of $75 would be added for each additional accession group included in the same b-box (e.g., a box containing eight (8) small collections would be assessed as $475 plus 7 x $75, or an additional $525, totaling $1025).

What if our project comes in at more than two b-boxes/cubic feet?

We will first draw up a new repository agreement with your firm since the standard Repository Agreement applies to collections of two cubic feet/b-boxes or less. Pertinent elements of larger deposits will be addressed in the language of the expanded agreement. For example, if the new collection consisted of 14 boxes then Box 1 would be $475 and Boxes 2-14 would be $285 each. The total assessed curation fee for this collection would be $4180.

What if the collections retained from a project are all or mostly oversize objects?

The cubic foot figure will be the measuring factor. The first cubic foot will be assessed the $475 curation fee and additional cubic feet (by volume occupied in storage) will each be charged $285. For example, if a 19th century steel bridge component measures 3 x 2 x 2 feet (12 cubic feet), the curation fee would be $475 plus 11 x $285 for a total of $3610.

What collections are exempt from being charged a fee?

For Repository Agreements dating from 2005 onward, no one, whether profit or non-profit, is exempt from fees. If you have Repository Agreements from 2004, contact Dan Cagley at 651.296.0147or by e-mail at for clarification of fees owed. All Repository Agreements dated 2003 or earlier are fee-exempt.

How should I pay the fee?

Please bring a check payable to the Minnesota Historical Society with you when you come to deposit your materials. MNHS staff will calculate the costs and give you an invoice for your payment.

Contact information

For repository agreement requests, accession number requests, or appointments for depositing collections and documentaton:

Dan Cagley  
Collections Manager, Collections Department  

For questions about electronic cataloging procedures:

Nancy Hoffman  
Archaeology Collections Assistant, Archaeology Department  

For Archaeology Department research requests and access:

Jennifer Rankin  
Director of Archaeology, Archaeology Department