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From a quirky collection in the 1870s to a thriving educational museum today, the rich history of the Joseph Moore Museum involves fires, rescuing giant beavers, a mad elephant, and much Moore.

The museum is run primarily by Earlham College students who, guided by faculty and staff, conduct research, design and lead programs and exhibitions, care for our live animals, and market our programs. The museum also serves as a "learning lab" for students in the college's Museum Studies Program.

For information call 765-983-1303

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The Joseph Moore Museum inspires learners of all ages to connect with and appreciate nature including the ancient world and its peoples, using a scientific lens.

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Joseph Moore was a teacher at the Friends Boarding School in Richmond, Indiana (later to become Earlham College) who began to collect natural history objects to supplement his teaching. At first, he housed his collection in a cabinet in Earlham Hall and later moved it to a small room. The collection was constantly being enlarged and when Lindley Hall was built in 1887, the lower floor of one wing was designated for the museum. In 1889, the fossil Giant Beaver and Ta'an, the mummy, were acquired. Also during this time, the museum received the skeleton of "Tippo Sahib", a local circus elephant that had gone mad and had to be shot. Its skeleton was mounted next to that of the mastodon. Attempts to catalog items were made, but like other museums of this time period, the total collection was on display as a jumble of objects. In 1905, after the death of Joseph Moore, Allan D. Hole followed him as curator. During Hole's tenure, the Accession Books were started and specimens were arranged more systematically. 

Lindley _Fire _Article

Shortly after midnight on October 23, 1924, a night watchman noticed that Lindley Hall was on fire. Students helped remove specimens including the mummy after realizing the building was doomed. The giant beaver was carried out by Gordon Bowles '25. The mastodon was saved from falling debris by a steel beam, and some of the mounted bird specimens survived because they were under a balcony. Amazingly, only about a quarter of the collection was destroyed, although among the losses was the skeleton of Tippo Sahib.  

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When Dennis Hall was completed in 1952, the museum moved into one wing which included storage for specimens not displayed - reflecting a change in philosophy. And current research was used in exhibits to illustrate an idea to the visitor rather than present a confusing jumble of materials. Students began to take a more active role, and from 1952-1955 the staff, which was mostly composed of students, remounted the Randolph Mastodon in the new wing. 

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Today, in addition to tour work, students curate collections and design new exhibits.

Heather Lerner
Director of the Joseph Moore Museum; Associate Professor of Biology

Lisa Butch
Education and Outreach Coordinator

Ann-Eliza Lewis
Joseph Moore Museum Collections Manager

Sharon Oler
Administrative Assistant


The JMM appreciates the generous support of our donors. To make a onetime or recurring gift to the JMM, please use the link below. It will bring you to Earlham College's donation site with the designation to the JMM already completed. This assures that your donation will be directed to the proper account.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.