Requests to examine specimens on site may be entertained from individuals, school groups, or special interest groups. Requests might come from an organization of naturalists who wish to learn to recognize the fauna of an area in preparation for a field trip, or a school group that wishes to augment its classroom curriculum in ecology or evolution. Biological illustrators may be allowed to examine specimens. Researchers may visit the collections to glean geographical data from specimens, as specimens are not normally loaned for that purpose alone.
In general, providing public, group, or individual tours without specific educational goals is not embraced by the mission of the museums. Tours are given to prospective undergraduate students and their families during the New Mexico State University's Visitor Day to advertise the educational resources that the university possesses. The public is also welcome to visit during biannual Open House periods and Homecoming.
Visitation and use of the museum is determined by several factors, including but not limited to: potential impact on specimens, the appropriate use of the specimens for research or education, the availability of museum staff to oversee the visit and the safety of the collections, schedule conflicts and the number of requests received within a period of time, and past experience with the party making the request. The museum will not entertain requests from groups or individuals who cannot be completely accountable for their conduct as it relates to the safety of the collections and the peaceful undertaking of other missions of the Department of Biology at New Mexico State University.
A request by groups to visit the Vertebrate Museum will ideally be made at least one month prior to the requested date of visit. Circumstances such as faculty or staff absences may require even more lead time for planning. An initial inquiry may be made by telephone or e-mail, but a written request on official letterhead is appreciated from the individual ultimately responsible for the group. An on-site orientation may be required for the group leader to establish logistics, the limitations of facilities, and in the case of school groups, the number of adult supervisors that are necessary. A recommended maximum of 10 minors or 15 adults may visit a museum at one time. These limits are as much for the quality of the experience as for the safety of specimens. They may be raised or lowered at the discretion of the curatorial staff. It may be possible to accommodate groups larger than 10-15 by dividing them and arranging simultaneous visits to the Biology Department's Arthropod Museum and Herbarium. Vertebrate Museum faculty may be able to help coordinate such joint visits, but not joint visits to facilities outside of the Department of Biology. Ordinarily, museum staff will not be able to lead groups from one facility to another. Minors must be accompanied by adult group leaders at all times.