The paleontology collection was founded by Thomas Condon, the first professor of geology and natural sciences at the University of Oregon in 1876. Condon, a Congregational minister, brought his own fossil and rock collection to use in his teaching. The UO catalog for 1898-99 stated “Students will have free access to Professor Condon’s great museum.” To this day, UO students and staff receive free admission to the museum, where some of Condon’s fossils are displayed. Both a congregational minister and a paleontologist, Condon embraced Darwinism early. As he put it, "I once believed God created a small fact; I now see that he must have created a whole system of facts at once."

Condon’s personal fossil collection formed the core of UO paleontology. After his death in 1907, the university acquired his collection so that paleontological research could continue in Oregon. Since then, the museum’s collection has grown from Condon's 3,440 specimens to approximately 80,000 curated specimens, including more than 200 type specimens.

Condon’s collection is still kept separately in the curation facility. In fact, we have all of the specimens from his 1902 book on Oregon geology, The Two Islands and What Came of Them. His collection not only documents the evolutionary history of Oregon, but also the early history of paleontology in the western USA.

For more information, contact Edward Davis, Paleontological Collection Manager, (541) 346-3461, edavis@uoregon.edu or Greg Retallack, co-Director of Paleontological Collections, (541) 346-4558, gregr@uoregon.edu.