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.s

The Museum is located in the basement of Boone Hall on The College of Idaho campus in Caldwell, Idaho. THE MUSEUM HAS RECENTLY EXPANDED ITS HOURS! IT IS NOW OPEN EVERY TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY FROM 1-5 PM, THE FIRST SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH FROM 8-5 (except during the monthly lunchtime research seminar), AND THE THIRD SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH FROM 10-4. THE SATURDAY SCHEDULE MAY VARY BECAUSE OF HOLIDAY WEEKENDS. The Museum may also be open for special events and by appointment. Click here to see the Museum calendar. 

The Museum Gift Shop has educational gifts for adults and children, as well as a number of items featuring the Museum's new logo. Click on the "Museum Store" link to the right of the large photo above to make purchases on-line.

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

The next workday is Saturday, August 5 The lunchtime research seminar will be presented by Dr. Pat Fields (Curator of Paleontology and Research Associate of Paleobotany). His topic is,"The Scientific Method -- A Quick Look at How Science Really Works."

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

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

Latest news

THE MUSEUM WELCOMES DIANE B. RICE, a new administrative assistant. She is a Colorado native. Museum work was her original professional goal. Diane describes herself as, "an itinerant traveler to prehistoric ruins, rocky spaces and historic buildings from Alaska to Guatemala; most recently visiting Italy and Wales to observe petroglyphs and castles. Former archeologist, museum curator, librarian, program coordinator, and cat of many hats, including mother, wife, and community volunteer."

Dr. Paul Castrovillo (Curator of Lepidoptera) presented the July lunchtime seminar. His topic was, "Identification and biology of Idaho's swallowtail butterflies." The talk was followed by a butterfly-identification workshop in preparation for the annual 4th of July butterfly count on July 9.

A paper by William H. Clark (Museum Director) and Richard Salisbury (Associate Curator of Mollusca) on land snails from Baja California was recently published. See the Museum News section of the website for details.

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