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, July 9. The lunchtime research seminar will be "Selected topics on Idaho Butterflies," by Paul Castrovillo (Curator of Lepidoptera). The talk will be followed by a butterfly workshop to prepare for the annual butterfly count on Sunday, July 10. Click on the action item to the right for more information.

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 Orma J. Smith Museum and Idaho Botanical Garden co-sponsored a day-long "Bees and Blooms" workshop on June 25. Activities included observations of bees, information about bee-friendly plants and gardens, and an opportunity to learn about bee identification. Dr. Ron Bitner (Research Associate of Entomology and member of the Museum's Board of Directors), Dr. Craig Baird (Curator of Entomology), and Dr. Barbara Ertter (Research Associate and Chair of the Museum's Board of Directors) were instructors. (June 25, 2016)

Bill Clark (Museum Director) presented the lunchtime seminar at the June 4 Museum Workday. His topic was "Biodiversity Survey Inside the Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve in Baja California Sur, Mexico: the Los Cardones Project." Attendees included participants in a College of Idaho admissions tour.

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.

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

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

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.

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