The Museum's Malacology Collection includes approximately 40,000 specimens, including all six classes of marine mollusca.


A cutaway view of a shell.

Fun Facts

The personal collection of Janke Kolff, donated to the Museum in 1976, provided the foundation for the current collections.  Additional donations, trades, and the research of University faculty and students have contributed to collections growth.

The malacology collection includes a large selection of freshwater mussels from North America.  The earliest freshwater mussels were collected in the 1880s by Dr. Orson Howard, Professor of Biology at the University of Utah.  Dr. Howard traveled to every county in Utah to build his collection, and many of the species he collected are now extinct.

The collections are actively used for research.  Currently, the entire collection of Turrids is on loan to the Department of Biology where research into the medical benefits of some mollusk toxins is being researched.

A grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services enabled our staff to purchase new cabinets and trays to move the malacology collection to the Rio Tinto Center.  Thousands of hours of volunteer work made this move successful.