Museum of Natural History

| More


Museum of Natural History

Jesse Dunn Building
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Alva, Oklahoma 73717
Phone 580-327-8513
Dr. Steven Thompson, 580-327-8566

Dr. Aaron J. Place, 580-327-8673


Stevens begins Museum in 1902

The Museum of Natural History at Northwestern Oklahoma State University was established in 1902 by Professor G.W. Stevens, head of the biology department. It is the second oldest museum in Oklahoma.

In 1908, Professor Stevens and his former student, assistant and protege, T.C. Carter, traveled to Alaska, spending seven months collecting hundreds of specimens of mammals, birds and bird eggs. Those Alaskan materials were then added to the museum, which already contained an extensive collection of biological specimens native to the Oklahoma area.

Stevens left Northwestern in 1916 but Carter taught at the University until his retirement in 1952. Carter and his students collected and/or prepared much of the material that remains on display today.

Bill Pitts served as full time curator from 1963 to 1974. The museum was then without a curator until Dr. Paul Nighswonger of the biology department was appointed as a part-time curator in 1990. He and Dr. Dan Shorter, also from the biology department, had begun the slow process of restoration of the museum and its exhibits in the late 1980's. That process continued when Dr. Vernon Powders became the director/curator in 1994.

Closed, except for research and specially arranged tours, since January 1975, the Northwestern Museum of Natural History reopened to the public on Sept. 3, 1997. It is housed on the second floor of the Jesse Dunn Building, in what once was the university's library. It is a large, elegant area interesting for its architecture and decoration, as well as for its contents.

The Bird Collection

Part of the Bird Collection

Collection of featured birds, mammals, and fossils

Currently the museum has more than 6,000 accessioned items, including a mounted bird collection that is one of the largest in the state. This collection includes two whooping cranes, Grus americanus, and more than 20 mounted eagles.

Shovel-Toothed Mastodon
Shovel-Toothed Mastodon
Extinct Teleoceras
Extinct Teleoceras
Blackfooted Ferret (Nearly Extinct)
Blackfooted Ferret (Nearly Extinct)

The mammal collection includes one mounted black-footed ferret, Mustela nigripes, (possibly the rarest living mammal in the world). The shovel-tusked mastodon, Gomphotherium spp., exhibit is unique for North America.

The museum's collection include either on display or in storage, paleontogical, anthropological, archeological, geological, historical and natural history materials.
Exhibits include mounted birds and mammals, pleistocene fossils, and geological, anthropological, archeological and natural history displays, as well as historical photographs and articles dealing with the university and northwestern Oklahoma.
The museum's open hours will vary. Interested persons should call the museum at 580-327-8513 or the museum directors, Dr. Thompson (580-327-8566) or Dr. Place (580-327-8673) to determine the current schedule.