In 1986 the legislature recognized the museum as the state museum of natural history with a mission "to preserve, increase and disseminate knowledge of natural history of the state of Idaho and northern intermountain west."
In November of 1993 following renovation and expansion, the museum opened a new exhibit, THE NATURE OF IDAHO. The exhibit traces the evolution of life forms seen in fossils of Idaho and features artifacts of Native Americans over an 11,000 year period. Other features are a seismograph recording earthquake activity, a high desert food web and an exhibit on Idaho's threatened and endangered species.
Faculty curators from biological sciences, geology and anthropology carry out teaching and research utilizing the collections. The museum offers a course on museum history and practices describing vocational options in the museum field.
Educational programs serve visiting school classes and offer programs to schools in the region. Programs for adults are sponsored by Friends of the Museum, the Audubon Society, the Idaho Archaeological Society and the Idaho Native Plant Society among other associations. The Museum Store offers a variety of natural history books, games, posters and toys.
Revised: April 24, 1996