Museum of Natural History exhibits

School of Arts & Sciences

Museum of Natural History

Jesse Dunn Building, Second Floor
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Alva, Oklahoma 73717

The museum's open hours are set druing the fall and spring semesters. During winter or summer break you may contact the museum directors to schedule a visit. 

Hours for Spring 2024:

Monday: 2-5pm

Tuesday: 1-5pm

Wednesday: 2-5pm

Thursday: 1-5pm

Friday: 2-5pm

Museum Contact:

(580) 327-8513

Museum Directors:

Dr. Nicholus Ledbetter, 580-327-8673

Thomas Cornell, 580-327-8111

Visit our facebook page

Museum Flyer - Visit the Museum

History of Museum

G.W. Stevens begins museum in 1902

Bison in the Museum of Natural History

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.


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.

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 includes 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.

Part of the Bird Collection

Blackfooted Ferret (nearly extinct)
Blackfooted Ferret (Nearly Extinct)

Extinct Teleoceras
Extinct Teleoceras

Shovel-Toothed Mastodon
Shovel-Toothed Mastodon

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

709 Oklahoma Blvd., Alva, OK 73717
Phone: (580) 327-1700

© 2008-2024 Northwestern Oklahoma State
University. All Rights Reserved.

Mission Statement

Northwestern Oklahoma State University provides quality educational and cultural opportunities to learners with diverse needs by cultivating ethical leadership and service, critical thinking and fiscal responsibility.

Proud Member of RUSO