Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum
and Montana Comparative Skeletal Collection

The University of Montana

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Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum and Montana Comparative Skeletal Collection

About Us


A crowded collections.  Photo by E. Graslie

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 Montanarecords. The museum provides important resources for research, teaching, and educational outreach programs, and is fully accredited by the American Society of Mammalogists.





A ruby-throated hummingbird being prepared for the collections.  Photo by E. Graslie


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


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 skeletons. 


The mounted bird room.  Photo by E. Graslie




Mounted Birds Room: This room (2nd  

Floor, Health Sciences Building) contains

the majority of the museum's full-body

mount birds.



Alcohol Specimens Room as stored in 2006


Alcohol Specimens Room: This room was previously located on the

4th Floor of the Health Sciences Building, and contained the bulk of the

museum's fish, amphibian, and reptile collections, including over 3,000

specimens preserved in fluids. This collection was relocated into storage

in a basement in 2006 and much of the collection is currrently

inaccessible for research.  (Right: The Fish Collection as it was

stored until 2006)


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.



Our volunteer Sam preparing a hummingbird for the collection.  Photo by E. Graslie

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 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.





                                             Contact Us:

             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


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