Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum
and Montana Comparative Skeletal Collection

The University of Montana

The University of Montana .: Search UM .:UM A-Z Index
Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum and Montana Comparative Skeletal Collection


Fish collected off of the East Coast in the 1940s.


The Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at The University of Montana

contains over 24,000 specimens of vertebrates, primarily mammals, birds, and fish. It is the largest zoological collection in Montana and one of the major zoological collections representing the Northern Rocky Mountains. The museum has been instrumental in documenting past and present distribution patterns of Montana mammals and birds, and is the major repository for specimens that constitute important Montana records. The museum provides important resources for research,teaching, and educational outreach programs, and was one of the first Zoological Museums in the nation to become fully accredited by the American Society of Mammalogists. 




Brief History


Phil Wright

Begun in the 1890's with contributions by such notable biologists as Morton John Elrod, the museum contains collections from as early as the 1850's up to the present, including a collection of American Bison bones collected from an archaeological site dating back to 1490 ad.  Dr. Philip L. Wright (right) took responsibility for the museum in 1939 and continued to add specimens until his passing in 1997. That same year, in a dedication ceremony, the University of Montana renamed the museum in honor of Dr. Wright's efforts to build the collection.  Other past curators include Dr. Robert Hoffmann, a mammalogist who went on to become the Secretary of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History after getting his start in the UMZM during the 1950's. 

Today, under the direction of Curator David Dyer, the museum continues to grow and move forward as the leading zoological collections repository in the region.


Mission Statement

The University of Montana Zoological Museum (UMZM), a unit of the Division of Biological Sciences of

the University of Montana, is committed to the collection and preservation of specimens in the field of

vertebrate zoology for the purposes of research, teaching, interpretation, and community service.

UMZM maintains a permanent research collection for use by researchers within the University. 

Through the loan program and onsite visits, the research collection is available to the scientific

community at large.  Also, a teaching collection is maintained for use in courses at the University.

UMZM specializes in vertebrates from Montana and the Northern Rocky Mountains.  Other areas of

interest are the states and provinces adjacent to Montana, the Pacific Northwest, and other areas of

the world as deemed suitable.

UMZM, as the largest zoological museum in Montana and one of the major zoological collections of the

Northern Rocky Mountains, is the repository of voucher specimens generated by University research. 

UMZM is also the repository for vertebrate specimens collected by the Montana Natural Heritage

Program.  In addition, UMZM maintains synoptic collection of mammals and birds from Russia, and in a

collection of Chinese mammals.  A comparative skeletal collection is available for research purposes,

and as and aid in the  identification of skeletal specimens obtained by University researchers,

archaeologists, agencies in the community, and the general public.

The Montana Natural History Center (MNHC) acts, by written agreement, as the public outreach

arm of the UMZM to provide instruction in environmental education.

Varied Thrushes (Zoothera naevia) Photo by E. Graslie



                                             Contact Us:

                                        Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum

                                                      Division of Biological Sciences

                                                         The University of Montana

                                                              Missoula, MT 59812

   We are on the UM campus on the 2nd floor (Room 212) of the Health Sciences Building


Spectral Fusion Logo; links to SFD home page

Graphics, Design, and Layout by Lauren Easom. Copyright © Spectral Fusion 2005. All Rights Reserved.