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 is fully accredited by the American Society of Mammalogists.
Begun in the 1890's, the museum contains collections from as early as 1851 up to the present. Philip L. Wright (right) took responsibility for the museum in 1939 and continued to add specimens until his death 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. Today the museum continues to grow and move forward as the leading zoological collections repository in the region.
Other notable contributors to the collection include Morton J. Elrod, who was a founding biologist on the campus beginning in the 1880s, and Dr. Robert Hoffmann, a small mammals expert who went on to become a director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Main Collections Room: This area (2nd Floor, Health
Sciences Building) contains the bulk of the museum
collections and records. The staff can generally be found
in the collections room as well.
Cold Room: The cold room (located in the rear of the
Main Collections) contains many of the museum's skins.
Preparation Lab and Dermestid Colony: As the
name suggests, the bulk of the museum's processing of
incoming specimens takes place here (2nd Floor, Health
Sciences Building) . This area contains specimen
freezers, a fume hood, the Dermestid beetle box, and lab
tables and equipment for preparation of skins and
Mounted Birds Room: This room (2nd
Floor, Health Sciences Building) contains the
majority of the museum's full-body mount
Alcohol Specimens Room: This room used to be locatedon4th Floor of the Health Sciences Building, and containedthe bulk of the museum's fish, amphibian, and reptile collections, includingover3,000 specimens preserved in fluids. This collection was relocated into storage in a basement in 2006 and much of the collection is inaccessible forresearch.
Skull Room: This room (located in the rear of the Main Collections) contains the bulk of the skulls, horn cores and horn sheaths from the museum's vast Sheep (Ovis canadensis, Ovis dalli, and Ovis aries) collections.
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 premanent 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.
Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812
Located on the UM campus on the 2nd floor of the Health Sciences Building