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Natural History Museum prepares for Homecoming events

The Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History will be booming this Homecoming weekend, hosting two events that equally embody its mission of service and education.

The museum will host its 10th Annual “Night at the Museum” event at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 15 in Boone Hall, celebrating the volunteers who have helped keep the museum running over the past year. The next day, the museum will host an art and film walking tour featuring the Navajo sand paintings of Luther A. Douglas, with tours running at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on September 16.

“It is fun to see our museum volunteers rewarded for their hard work and dedication to both the College and to the museum,” museum director Bill Clark said. “We always have a fun presentation and tour of the museum and we enjoy the chance to meet people interested in us.”

The “Night at the Museum” event’s theme for the year is “Adventures in Field Studies: The Legacy and Possibilities of Natural History Field Trips.” This will include a short overview of the College’s history of field work that it has explored through the years, which will consist of oral and visual presentations from Clark, Dr. Pat Packard, Dr. Don Mansfield and Dr. Jamie Goode.

The event will also feature a presentation of the museum’s volunteer awards, as well as a silent auction featuring numerous items to support future museum projects. Some of the items set for auction include an Idaho jet boat trip, natural history prints and books, wines from Bitner Vineyards, and other museum related items.

Saturday’s art and film walking tour will feature the work of Star, Idaho native Luther A. Douglas, who mastered the art of sand painting during his time living on a Navajo reservation as a young boy. Clark said the College has the largest collection of Douglas’ paintings in the country, and because it is so rare for the paintings themselves to be preserved, it is a unique kind of art form for the museum to feature.

Douglas’ paintings use a palette of over 700 distinct colors, which all come from naturally occurring sands, minerals and gems, including coral, turquoise and amethyst. Douglas had long been fascinated by the Navajo’s traditions during his time growing up on their reservation, particularly their arts. “It was the first time I experienced being a loved child of a true family,” Douglas would go on to say later in life.

Douglas’ daughter, Conda, will be present for the entirety of the museum’s hours on Saturday, from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. Before each of the two scheduled tours of the day, Conda Douglas will present her short film about Luther’s art, “Writ in Sand,” which she wrote, produced and directed. The film won 2nd prize in the San Francisco International Film Festival’s student category in 1984.

To register for each event, contact [email protected].

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit