Idaho Virtual Museum

Sources and Attributions

The content presented in the Idaho Virtual Museum consists of 3D models and 2D images compiled from a series of virtualization projects carried out by the Idaho Museum of Natural History since 2004. Founded from the database and Arctic faunal models from the VZAP project, the Idaho Virtual Museum provides a single, open-access platform to maximize the sharing of all IMNH virtual data. Models and images contained on the site are governed by a CC-BY-NC license. Access to original models is subject to owner approval and can be requested via email address from the repositories below.

Funded Projects

The Idaho Virtual Museum (2013-2016)

This project is collaboration between the IMNH’s IVL division and ISU’s IRI, to create a web interface and improved database structure to drive the Idaho Virtual Museum. It further contributed 776 models to the paleontological, anthropology and osteology content areas. The website was released September 1, 2016.

Major funding provided by generous contributions from the Hitz Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.

Fossil Bison (2016-2017)

The IMNH’s greatest vertebrate fossil collection comes from the American Falls Reservoir, which is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation. Generous funding from Reclamation is facilitating scanning of their Bison collection, which includes the best preserved and largest collection of Bison latifrons in the world. This project will generate roughly 250 specimens representing four species of Bison from southeast Idaho.

Idaho Mammals (2015-2016)

Funded by the Carron Family Endowment, 94 osteological specimens were digitized from the IMNH Comparative collections in the Earth Science Division.

Whales of the World (2010- )

The IVL is a world leader in scanning cetaceans, from large-bodied baleen whales to dolphins. Started in 2010, this ongoing project is an attempt to virtualize every whale species. Current collections include:

Species Partner Institution Funding
2 Orca (Killer Whale) PTMSC / SSSC NSF ARC-0808933
1 Humpback Whale NPS:GB NPS P12PC01919
2 Bowhead Whales UAMN HITZ
2 Beluga Whales UAMN HITZ
1 Grey Whale UAMN HITZ
1 Minke Whale UAMN HITZ
1 Narwhal UAMN HITZ
1 Cuvier’s Beaked Whale UAMN HITZ
1 Stejneger’s Beaked Whale UAMN HITZ
1 Baird’s Beaked Whale UAMN HITZ
2 Dall’s Porpoises UAMN HITZ
1 Harbor Porpoise SI:M NSF ARC-1023321
1 Short Beaked Common Dolphin SI:M NSF ARC-1023321

Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic Project (2008-2014)

This project was collaboration between the IMNH’s former director, Dr. H. Maschner, ISU’s Dr. C. Schou, and Canadian Museum of History’s Dr. M. Betts. The VZAP Project created the first comprehensive virtual collection, designed as an osteological reference to identify bones from Arctic fauna, including 169 species of bird, mammal, and fish. Possibly the largest virtual collection in its time, the VZAP effort resulted in the capture of 264 individual skeletons comprising 6,783 bones. Importantly, the underlying database structure now serves as a model for organizing and securely disseminating virtual content, as it does for the Idaho Virtual Museum.

The VZAP project was funded by two grants from the National Science Foundation (ARC-0808933, ARC-1023321).

Participating Institutions

IVM Owners


IVL workflows, scanning protocols and research are summarized in our project publications:

  • Betts, M. W., Maschner, H. D. G., Schou, C. D., Schlader, R., Holmes, J., Clement, N., and Smuin, M. 2011. Virtual zooarchaeology: Building a web-based reference collection of northern vertebrates for archaeofaunal research and education. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38, 4, 755-762.
  • Deck, L. T., Schlader, R., Clement, N.,Gibbs, W. and Chapman, R. E. 2007. Especially durable prototypes of fossil specimens and replicas for use in public programming. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27(Suppl. 3), 67A.
  • Holmer, N., Clement, N., Dehart, K., Maschner, H., Pruitt, J., Schlader, R., and van Walsum, M. 2014. The Idaho Virtualization Laboratory 3D Pipeline. Virtual Archaeology Review, 5(10), 21-31.
  • Maschner, H. D. G., Schou, C. D. and J. Holmes. 2013. Virtualization and the democratization of science: 3D technologies revolutionize museum research and access. Digital Heritage International Congress (DigitalHeritage), 2013, Marseille, 2013, pp. 265-271.
  • Pruitt, J.P., Clement, N.G., and Tapanila, L. In press. Laser and structured light scanning to acquire 3D morphology. In: Tapanila, L. and Rahman, I. (eds.), Virtual Paleontology. Paleontological Society Short Course, Volume 26.
  • Ryan, K., Betts, M. W., Oliver-Lloyd, V., Clement, N., Schlader, R., Young, J., and Gardiner, M. 2014. Identification of a Pre-Contact Polar Bear Victim at Native Point, Southampton Island, Nunavut, Using 3D Technology and a Virtual Zooarchaeology Collection. Arctic, 67(4), 493–510.
  • Tapanila, L., Pruitt, J., Pradel, A., Wilga, C.D., Ramsay, J.B., Schlader, R., and Didier, D.A. 2013. Jaws for a spiral-tooth whorl: CT images reveal novel adaptation and phylogeny in fossil Helicoprion. Biology Letters 9 (2): 20130057.