Orma J. Smith Museum extends public hours

Thanks to a new hire, The College of Idaho’s Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History has extended its hours to allow for more student, public and volunteer access. The museum is now open from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday every week, as well as 1-4 p.m. on the first and third Saturday of each month.

The extended hours are made possible by the recent hire of administrative assistant Diane Rice, the museum’s first official employee. The museum’s many collections, activities and functions are driven primarily by volunteers and student interns.

“With the expanded hours, we hope to get more people into the museum and extend the hours that volunteers are able to contribute,” Rice said. “The cool thing about this museum is that we have volunteer curators.”

The Orma J. Smith Museum is the only natural history museum in southwest Idaho, southeast Oregon and northern Nevada. It holds a wide variety of unique artifacts, including an impressive number of leaf fossils, all found locally near Succor Creek. Other collections include ichthyology (fish fossils), aquatic invertebrates, the Evans Gem and Mineral collection, Native American artifacts, and archaeology. About one-third of the museum’s collection is insects, and curators regularly publish and contribute to national and international entomology articles and projects.

Currently, the museum’s standing exhibit is “Egyptology in Idaho”, which features artifacts dating back to the 18th Dynasty in Egypt and Rome. This exhibit includes inscribed scarabs, beads, and the mummy of a kestrel falcon.  According to Rice, the museum will be doing a display for the Idaho State Historic Preservation and Archeology Month in May titled “Pottery through the Ages.”

The Orma J. Smith is located on the basement floor of Boone Science Hall on the C of I campus in Caldwell. New signage points the way from any Boone Hall entrance, leading guests to a menagerie of taxidermy animal specimens, archeological displays, insect collections and a small gift shop. Museum staff and volunteers regularly hold events for both the campus and Caldwell communities to enjoy. For more information, click here to visit the museum website. 

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit