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, September 10. (Note that this is the second Saturday of the month, because the first Saturday is part of the Labor Day weekend.) The lunchtime research seminar will be "Insect Community Response to disturbance and altered habitat in sagebrush ecosystems," by Ashley Rohde (United States Geological Survey). 

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

Anna Chase (who graduated from The College of Idaho last May) received the first Museum Student Research Award for a project entitled, "Lower Boise River Mollusk Inventory." Click here for more information about the award. More information about the award program and application forms for future awards can be found by clicking the "Museum Student Research Grants" link to the right of the leopard photo above.

Progress on moving the Evans Gem and Mineral Collection to the Museum continues. The College has installed new electrical connections and lighting fixtures, and 21 volunteers helped pack specimens and movie exhibit cases at the August Museum workday. Further help from volunteers is still needed.

Dr. Pat Fields presented the lunchtime seminar at the August 6 Museum Workday. The title of his presentation was, "A Costa Rica Adventure." Dr. Fields recently led a field trip for students from Olivet College, where he is an Associate Professor of Biology
Dr. Dennis Feeney and Dr. Rene Breedlovestout (United States Geological Survey) visited the Museum to work with fossil collections (and donate a few specimens.

Long-tine Museum volunteer (and constructor of insect cabinets) Hal Hampel passed away. Memorial services were on August 1.

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

Nate Carpenter (Curator and Research Associate of Paleontology) has just become the new Curator of the Evans Gem and Mineral Collection, which 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.