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, May 7. The lunchtime research seminar will be "Power to the people's pumps: Archaeology and history of high-lift pumping," by David Valentine (Idaho Power Company). This seminar is an event for Idaho Archaeology Month.

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.

Latest news

The Museum will be open from 9-3 on Saturday, April 23, in association with National History Day.

The Geological Society of America has accepted an abstract by Museum researchers Ralph Stearley, Gerald Smith, and Nate Carpenter for presentation at the Annual Meeting of their Rocky Mountain Section.

Steve Bouffard (Curator of Birds) gave a talk on Bird Identification at the Foothills Learning Center. The talk was followed by a short bird walk.

Jan Summers Duffy (Curator of Archaeology) gave the lunchtime seminar at the monthly volunteer workday on April 2. Her topic was, "History, Archaeology & Recent Theory of KV 62, The Tomb of Tutankhamun and recap of my work with TT209 – Proyecto dos cero nueve; La Laguna University, Spain."

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 Evans Gem and Mineral Collection will be moving to the Museum. Watch this website and the Museum's Facebook page to keep up with the latest progress.

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

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