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. 

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 leopard 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, March 4. The lunchtime research seminar will be presented by Dr. Gerald Smith (OJSMNH and University of Michigan) and Nate Carpenter (OJSMNH). Their topic is "The Yellowstone Hotspot Track and Miocene Fish Distributions"

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

A paper by William H. Clark (Museum Director) and Richard Salisbury (Associate Curator of Mollusca) on land snails from Baja California was recently published. See the Museum News section of the website for details.

The Museum regrets to announce the passing of James T. (Jim) Wolcott. Jim was a long-time friend and volunteer of the Museum and had a long relationship with the College. He was especially interested and helpful with the Archaeology Collections and fund-raising. We will miss him!

Applications are open for the paid position of Museum Assistant. Click here for The College of Idaho's job postings, and follow the link for "Museum Assistant" to obtain a position description, qualifications, and application information.

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

More than 30 people attended the February workday. They helped with the Archaeology, Entomology, Mammals, and Birds collections, the Evans Gem and Mineral Collections, the Library, and general Museum tasks.

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.

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