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, September 9. The lunchtime research seminar will be presented by Kaitlin Maguire (USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center). Her topic is, "Mammal fossil communities of eastern Oregon."

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 and the Boise Botanical Garden jointly hosted the 18th Annual "Bug Day" celebration, an entomological extravaganza with fun and educational activities about "bugs." Click here to see what The College of Idaho's blog said about the event!

Dr. Pat Fields(Curator of Paleontology and Research Associate of Paleobotany) presented the August lunchtime seminar. His topic was, "The Scientific Method - A Quick Look at How Science Really Works"

Dr. Julia Sankey (Research Associate) announced publication of her new book, whose title is “The Giant Spike-Toothed Salmon and Other Extinct Wildlife of Central California.” Reviewers raved about its writing and illustrations, and its depiction of modern collaborative scientific research. The book is intended for general audiences, and is available from Amazon.

The Museum welcomes Randy Whipple and Aurora Croissart to the Board of Directors. Aurora is the new Student Member.

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