Information for Visitors to the UMPC

Space and Facilities

The University of Montana Paleontology Center (UMPC) is located in the C.H. Clapp Building. Collection-based research, training of students, and other activities involves undergraduate/graduate students, faculty, and outside researchers. The UM paleontology facility consists of 1,500 sq. feet of collection storage space in the basement, a 800 sq. feet preparation lab on the third floor, an adjacent acid lab, and a computer room with internet connections for data base and 3D modeling/scanner work. Public exhibits of fossils are displayed on the first and third floors of the C.H. Clapp Building and can be viewed during regular business hours.

UM Research Collections


October 2005 - The state Board of Regents approved the UM Paleontology Center (UMPC), which included an association with Fort Peck Paleontology Inc. (FPPI) Field Station.

December 2007 The UMPC received a substantial grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), to renovate the collections with special attention being allocated to the Bear Gulch Collection.

January 2008 A full-time Collections Manager was hired to organize, protect, and curate the collections.

August 2008 The Space Saver System was installed and became fully functional.

September 2008 New web page/data base was developed by Spectral Fusion and made available to the public.

Quick Facts

Approximately 100,000 total specimens
Approximately 1,500 'type' or illustrated specimens
Since 1898, 275 published research papers and thesis resulted from the study of UMPC fossils.
Contains 192 cases of specimens (144 full/48 empty)
Currently, about 25,000 specimens have been entered into our electronic data base.
The UMPC houses vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant specimens from all over the world.

Major Collections

Fenton Collection: (Precambrian) specimens are primarily fossil algae and stromatolites from Montana.

Deiss Collection: (Cambrian) consists mostly of trilobites and some brachiopods from Montana and adjacent states. It also includes casts of type specimens, aka plastotypes.

Burgess Shale: (Middle Cambrian) A rare collection of trilobites and rare soft-bodied marine invertebrates from British Columbia, Canada that were acquired from the Smithsonian Institution. These fossils are considered to be one of the most significant fossil deposits in the world.

Bear Gulch Limestone: (Mississippian) specimens are from central Montana and contain soft-bodied taxa, including: worms, starfish, shrimp, and conodont-bearing animals. This collection also contains one of the most diverse assortments of Carboniferous fish in the world.

Silberling Muller Collection: (Triassic) collection of Triassic sponges, corals, and other marine invertebrates from west-central Nevada, possibly collected as early as the 1930's by S.W. Muller and later by N.J. Silberling.

Stanley Collection: (Triassic) an extensive collection of Upper Triassic fossils from Alpine Europe, the Cordillera of western North America, Alaska, and Canada. It includes: sponges, corals, hydrozoans, brachiopods, and mollusks. This collection also contains silicified Triassic invertebrates from the Andes of Peru and central Europe.

Bearpaw Shale: (Cretaceous) contains rare, well-preserved crustaceans, cephalopods, and bivalves from eastern and central Montana, many of which are preserved in nodules.

Fields Collection: (Cenozoic) mammal fossils from western Montana and the Idaho Tertiary Basin that represent the most extensive Tertiary Basin mammal collection found in any museum. This collection retains the precise locality and stratigraphic data necessary for modern research, making these specimens exceptionally significant. These specimens were acquired by R.W. Fields.

Miller Botanical Collection: Early Cretaceous and Cenozoic floras consisting mostly of Pinaceae (pine cones), flowering plants, ferns and gingkos from Montana and the surrounding areas.

For a printable self-guided tour of our exhibits, click here