Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History

Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History

The only natural history museum in the region encompassing southwestern Idaho, southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada, the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History is the premier resource for environmental and natural history education in the region. The Museum is listed in the "30 Most Amazing Higher Education Natural History Museums" list compiled by Best College Reviews. The Museum’s extensive collections and programs support the education of The College of Idaho students and the general public.

The Museum is located in the basement of Boone Hall on The College of Idaho campus in Caldwell, Idaho. It is open to the public Friday afternoons and one Saturday a month for workdays and public research seminars.  It may also be open for special events and by appointment. Click here to see the Museum calendar. 

To arrange for group tours contact Kinga Britschgi at 208.459.5211 or [email protected].

 Holdings of the Museum include:

  • Invertebrates, including Snake River mollusks. Museum collections include voucher repositories for Idaho Power Company, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and others.
  • One of the world's largest collections of insects from Baja California
  • Vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds), including the largest collection of modern fishes in Idaho
  • Paleontological collections (especially fossil leaves and fishes)
  • Native American archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, including Luther Douglas sand paintings
  • Artifacts from ancient Egypt and Rome including a kestrel mummy
The position of Curator of Herpetology is currently open. Please contact Bill Clark (Museum Director) if you'd like more information or to apply.

Next Lunchtime research Seminar and Volunteer Workday

Next workday is Saturday, August 6. The lunchtime research seminar will be "A Costa Rica Adventure," by Dr. Pat Fields (Museum Curator of Paleontology and Research Associate of Paleobotany, and Professor of Biology, Olivet College, Michigan). 

Click on the "Museum calendar" or "Volunteer workdays and research seminars" link (to the right of the jaguar photo) to download the latest version of the workday and seminar schedule for all of 2016.

Click here for more information on workdays and public research seminars.

Upcoming visits

  • Dr. Pat Fields (Michigan-based Curator of Paleontology) will be in Idaho from July 10-August 14 to work at the Museum.

  • Dr. Julia Sankey (California-based Research Associate and Member of the Museum Board of Directors) will be in the Boise area from July 19-26 and at the Museum on July 24-26 to work with vertebrate paleontology collections and help with Museum planning.

  • Dr. Gerald R. Smith (Michigan-based Curator of Fossil Fishes) will be in Idaho from July 26-31 for fieldwork. He will probably visit the Museum on July 30-31.

Latest news

Steve Bouffard (Curator of Birds) was interviewed for a radio program and led a "feel and tell" presentation on birding activities for the blind and visually impaired.

Jan Summers Duffy (Curator of Archaeology) began participation in an archaeological excavation at the Boise VA hospital (former Fort Boise). The excavation will continue until early August.

Dr. Rolf L. Aalbu, Entomologist, California Academy of Sciences, spent last weekend working with the Museum's collection of Tenebrionidae (Darkling Beetles) with Dr. Al Gillogly (Museum Curator of Beetles) and Museum Director, William H. Clark. Rolf found at least one species new to science in the collection, which he termed “the largest collection of arthropods/insects from Baja California, Mexico, in the world.”

Dr. Paul Castrovillo (Curator of Lepidoptera) presented the lunchtime seminar at the July 9 Museum Workday. The presentation was followed by a workshop on butterfly identification in preparation for this year's butterfly count.

Annual reports for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 are now available on-line! Click here to download your copies!

The application for Museum Student Research Grants is available. Click the "Museum Student Research Grants" link to the right of the leopard photo for more information.

The Gift Shop now has keychains, refrigerator magnets, and other items with the Museum's new logo. Come check them out!

Nate Carpenter (Curator and Research Associate of Paleontology) has just become the new Curator of the Evans Gem and Mineral Collection, which will be moving to the Museum. Watch this website and the Museum's Facebook page to keep up with the latest progress.

Click here for more information about this and other Museum news.