Last updated: 8/29/2012
Pocatello, Idaho
Street Address
5th Ave & Dillon St
Pocatello, ID 83209
Mailing Address
921 S. 8th Ave
Stop 8096
Pocatello, ID 83209
phone: 208-282-3168
Wednesday - Friday12:30 PM - 5 PM
Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Sunday - Tuesday11:59 PM - 11:59 PM
closed Sun-Tue and major holidays
Free. Donations Accepted.
Gift Shop
Online Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Dr. Herbert Maschner, Director of IMNH, Research Curator, Division Head Anthropology
phone: 208-282-3168
Dr. Leif Tapanila, Research Curator, Division Head Earth Sciences
phone: 208-282-3871
Dr. Charles "Rick" Williams, Research Curator, Division Head Life Sciences
phone: 208-282-2948
Janet Bala, MS, Life Sciences Collections, Manager
phone: 208-282-2815
Amy Commendador, MS, Manager, Earl H. Swanson Archaeological Repository
phone: 208-282-3042
Amber Tews, MS, Collections Manager, Anthropology
phone: 208-282-2451
Dr. Mary Thompson, Collections Manager, Earth Sciences
phone: 208-282-4151
Dawn Kimbrel, Registrar
phone: 208-282-2603
Kelly Pokorny, Education Resources Coordinator
phone: 208-282-2195
Bill Angle, Retail Operations Manager
phone: 208-282-3317

The Idaho Museum of Natural History is home to collections in Anthropology, Earth Sciences, and Life Sciences. The Museum also maintains an archive which documents its history as well as the history of the collections. Researchers pursue scholarly study of the collections and publish their findings in peer-reviewed and museum-sponsored publications. Exhibitions emphasize the collections and mission of the Museum, and include permanent and special offerings. Educational classes for children, families, and adults provide more in-depth exploration of the natural history of Idaho.


The Idaho Museum of Natural History actively nurtures an understanding of and delight in Idaho's natural and cultural heritage. As the official state museum of natural history, it acquires, preserves, studies, interprets and displays natural and cultural objects for Idaho residents, visitors and the world's community of students and scholars. The Museum also supports and encourages Idaho's other museums through mentoring and training in sound museological practices.


The Idaho Museum of Natural History was founded in 1934 in Pocatello as the Historical Museum at the Southern Branch of the University of Idaho, as Idaho State University was then called. The Museum was established by a group of professors in an effort to collect, preserve, and display the region's natural and cultural heritage.

The earliest collections, consisting of about 5,000 objects, were primarily anthropological, archaeological and historical artifacts largely donated by the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce and faculty and supporters of the Southern Branch. The biological collections were developed by faculty in the Biological Sciences Department at approximately the same time. The Museum was governed by a 17-member Historical Museum Committee until the mid-1950's when it was renamed the Idaho State College Museum and its first full-time director was appointed. In 1963, Idaho State College became Idaho State University, and the Museum changed its name to the Idaho State University Museum.

For many years, the Museum's holdings were strewn about the ISU campus in a variety of buildings. In 1976, Museum offices, exhibits and collections finally found a permanent home in the old library building, now known as the Museum Building. In 1977, the museum reoriented its mission to focus on natural history and the Ray J. Davis Herbarium and zoological collections were formally transferred from the ISU Department of Biological Sciences. Its historical collections were handed over to the Idaho State Historical Society, the Bannock County Historical Society, and the Idaho State University Library.

Also at this time, Museum and university officials worked at the state level to gain recognition for the Museum. In May 1977, the Idaho State Board of Education adopted a resolution requesting that Governor John Evans designate the Idaho State University Museum as the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH); he signed this proclamation on July 1, 1977. In 1986, the Idaho State Legislature confirmed the governor's proclamation by enacting legislation that formally designated the Museum as the official state museum of natural history (Idaho Statute 33-3012).

The IMNH now exists as a Special Program of Public Service (with separate line-item funding) of the Idaho State Board of Education, with Idaho State University providing additional support, advocacy and supervision. Currently the Museum holds and cares for over 500,000 natural and cultural objects in its collections areas located on the first two floors of the Museum building.

In 2009, the Idaho Museum of Natural History celebrated its 75th birthday.

Artifact 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.

Research Collections

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.

Educational Programs

The Education Resources Center offers classes for persons of all ages, from preschool to high school to home school to adulthood. Museum events spark new ideas and questions as they support scientific concepts and foster new learning. All classes are held at the Idaho Museum of Natural History, on the Idaho State University campus. Please contact Rebecca or Kelly at (208) 282-2195 for enrollment.


The IMNH exists as a Special Program of Public Service (with separate line-item funding) of the Idaho State Board of Education, with Idaho State University providing additional support, advocacy and supervision.


Publications are produced infrequently. Please see our E-store for available volumes.

  • Tebiwa
  • Misc Papers
  • Occasional Papers
  • Special Publications
  • ADA

    Wheelchair Accessible


    ON-Line Store

    The eStore at the Idaho Museum of Natural History provides visitors the opportunity to purchase unique items and publications that reflect the natural history of our state.

    Categories of items: IMNH Publications, IMNH Video Publications, Books, Rite in the Rain, Geologic Tools, Toys


    Through the Museum's Membership Program, you are able to support the Museum and receive valuable benefits at the same time. With discounts for the gift shop, classes and programs, and invitations to exclusive events, your Membership will pay for itself in no time. And best of all, you help ensure than IMNH will be around for at least 75 more years to help preserve and protect Idaho's natural history. For more information about how to become a member please call (208) 282-3168

    Gift Shop

    Online Gift Shop

    Special Event Rental

    Group Tours

    This information, including business hours, addresses and contact information is provided for general reference purposes only. No representation is made or warranty is given as to its content or the reliability thereof. User assumes all risk of use. Stories USA, Inc. and its content suppliers assume no responsibility for any loss or delay resulting from such use. Please call ahead to verify the dates, the location and directions.
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