The MSU Museum, initiated in 1857, is one of the oldest museums in the Midwest and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. In 2001, the MSU Museum became the first museum in the state to receive Smithsonian affiliate status from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the world's largest museum and research complex, thereby giving the MSU Museum broader access to Smithsonian cultural and scientific resources.
The museum is a public steward for nearly a million objects and specimens of cultural and natural history from around the world. It serves as a major state repository for the Department of Natural Resources (biological collections) and the Bureau of History (archaeological collections) and is the home of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program, a statewide program in partnership with Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.The Museum reaches a broad and diverse audience through strong, varied, and accessible collections, field- and collections-based research, public service and education programs, traveling exhibits, and innovative partnerships with Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, and Michigan State University Extension (MSUE).
As the science and culture at museum at Michigan State University, the MSU Museum "is committed to understanding, interpreting, and respecting natural and cultural diversity through education, exhibitions, research, and the building and stewardship of collections that focus on Michigan and its relationship to the Great Lakes, and the world beyond."