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, as well as numerous research activities.

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, December 3. The lunchtime research seminar will be presented by Dr. Kari Prassack (Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument). Her topic will be: 300,000th generation Idahoan: the fossil record of some of Idaho’s "pests"

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.

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

Latest news

A group of 25 people from Nampa Recreation Center toured the Museum.

A paper by Dr. Julia Sankey (Research Associate and Member of the Museum Board of Directors) and colleagues was published in PaleoBios (the official publication of the University of California Museum of Paleontology). Click here for a link to the paper.

Teresa Tarifa (Research Associate, Mammals) presented the lunchtime seminar at the November workday. Her topic was, "The Andean hairy armadillo:  Current knowledge, cultural importance and conservation challenges."

The College of Idaho 2017 Scholarship Gala will be February 2017 at Boise Centre. Tickets will be on sale in late 2016. If you attend, please specify that you would like to sit at a Museum Table. For more information, please contact Bill Clark (Museum Director) or Jack Cafferty (Museum Treasurer) or email [email protected].

THE MUSEUM GIFT SHOP IS NOW ON-LINE! Click on the "Museum Store" link to the right of the leopard photo above to purchase educational gifts for adults and children. Support the Museum by purchasing keychains, refrigerator magnets, luggage tags, and other items with our new logo! SAVE 10% ON ALL ITEMS THROUGH DECEMBER 23!

Progress on moving the Evans Gem and Mineral Collection to the Museum continues. Help is needed. Contact the Collection's Curator, Nate Carpenter, for more information.

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