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 KBritschgi@collegeofidaho.edu.

 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, February 4. The lunchtime research seminar will be presented by Dr. Roger Long (Biology Department, The College of Idaho). His topic will be "Effects of Grazing and Agriculture on Native Plant Communities in the Sagebrush Sea"

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

 Applications are now open for the paid position of Museum Assistant. Click here for a position description, qualifications, and application information.

Students at The College of Idaho worked closely with Museum specimens to create digital projects in a First-Year Seminar course "On Noticing" during the Fall, 2016 semester. The class was led by Prof. Rochelle Johnson, a member of the Museum's Board of Directors. To see their projects, click on the "Student Digital Projects" label to the right of the leopard photo on the Museum home page. Or, click here to view the projects.

Dr. Barbara Ertter (Research Associate and Chair of the Museum's Board of Directors) presented the first lunchtime seminar of 2017 at the January workday. Her topic was: "Western Canada Transect: Prairies to the Pacific"

THE MUSEUM GIFT SHOP IS 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!

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

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