Collection Information

Why We Have Collections

The Idaho Museum of Natural History cares for over 500,000 specimens in our collections. The specimens we collect and conserve document the natural history of Idaho and the Intermountain West. The collections are divided into three divisions: Anthropology, Earth Sciences, and Life Sciences. Taken together they form a vast (and growing) permanent record, which scientists can examine again and again, applying new analytical techniques and testing new hypotheses.

Who uses our collections?

Valuable information from collections benefits not only scientists studying the evolutionary relationships of organisms or the biology and geology of the planet, but they form the basic materials that preserve our heritage in Idaho and provide context for humans on this planet. Our collections are used by students at ISU to enhance their educational experience through class work and research. ISU professors and outside researches also use the collections to enhance and increase their research. These collections form the materials for public display in our exhibit gallery.

Information for visiting researchers

IMNH collections and facilities are available for use by qualified researchers. Loans of specimens are available to qualified researchers, and exhibit loans are available for non-commercial and educational purposes.

Collection records (accession, specimen, and locality records) are available for use and should comprise an important part of any publication involving the citation of IMNH materials. However, these data should not be released prior to publication without approval by Museum staff.

Visitors to IMNH are expected to handle specimens properly and comply with collections management policy governing collections and lab use. Proper use insures that IMNH collections will be available for future generations. Violations of these rules will result in loss of access to IMNH collections and facilities.

IMNH rules for facilities and collections use

  • All users must obtain permission before examining any collection or using laboratory areas so Museum staff can coordinate visitors, track use of the collections, and comply with environmental health and safety requirements.
  • All users must specify the collection they want to use; permission for access to one collection does not authorize use of others.
  • All users must obtain permission from a Museum Curator before removing any specimen(s) from IMNH collections.
  • If you are an ISU faculty member, graduate student, or undergraduate student, please read our collections policies for ISU researchers for specific information on the use of IMNH collection materials.
  • If you are a researcher from an institution other than ISU, please read our collections policies for non-ISU researchers for specific information on the use of IMNH collection materials.

Services we provide

  • Background research including literature, museum database, and other record searches
  • Curation and Storage
  • Field investigations in Anthropology, Earth Sciences, and Life Sciences
  • Archaeological and paleontological survey/testing/excavation
  • Identification, preparation, and curation of natural history specimens
  • Comprehensive archaeological and paleontological resource assessments, sensitivity surveys, and other types of evaluations
  • Archaeological and paleontological resource mitigation and monitoring
  • Archaeological and paleontological repository for state and federal material.