By ANDREW TERRY
At the end of a long dark corridor in Amarillo College’s Ordway Hall is a natural history museum with butterflies hanging from the walls, insects and small animals filling up tables and taxidermied scenes of animals all-around.
The museum was founded in 1976 by Richard Howard, a biology instructor at the time. Howard was a member of the lepidopterists’ society, an organization “that promotes the study and appreciation of butterflies and moths,” according to their website.
The museum began as Howard’s personal collection of butterflies displayed in his lab that “he wanted to show to his students,” said Dan Porter, the current curator of the museum, and biology instructor.
As the museum’s collection expanded it moved into its own room. The Texas Panhandle branch of the Safari Club International donated most of the mammals from North America and Africa as well as about $10,000 worth of the ocean life on display, according to Porter.
Some students said they don’t understand why the museum is located in Ordway. “I think it’s in the wrong building. It should be linked with the biology department,” Cadence Lowery-Hart, a music major, said.
The museum was not always located in Ordway. Originally both the museum and biology program were located in Dutton Hall, but due to an expansion to allow elevator access to the second floor of Ordway, the museum had to move. It was located in Durrett Hall until the police station moved in, and once again the museum had to relocate, this time to Ordway.
The museum’s location has caused some confusion for prospective visitors. “I’ve had people coming in saying ‘I’ve been looking for this for 30 minutes, why are you just in this little corner?’” Emily Clayton, a student worker for the museum and biology major, said.
“I think I’ve seen it before, but I didn’t know it was a natural history museum,” Sebastian Urena, a biology major, said. The museum doesn’t see very many visitors, but people find it when they really want to according to Clayton.
Porter has purchased additional specimens to add to the museum’s collection using grant funds for education.“Our museum is primarily for education. We bring in school groups who get to tour through the museum,” said Porter.
Clayton said that in the year she’s been working, there haven’t been any school tours.
The museum is free to all visitors and located in Ordway 116. The hours change each eight weeks due to its reliance on student workers, but are located on the museum’s website.