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.
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.
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.
Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum
Division of Biological Sciences
Missoula, MT 59812
We are on the UM campus on the 2nd floor (Room 212) of the Health Sciences Building