The Pigage Natural History Museum preserves a legacy and expands education 

The university’s most unusual hidden treasure on the UCCS campus might be the Pigage Natural History Museum and Wildlife Lab located in Osborne.  

The museum was established by the late Jon Pigage, a respected scholar and biology professor at UCCS. Efforts to create an endowed fund that supports the museum’s various initiatives were garnered from Ellen Elliott, Jon Pigage’s sister.  

Helen Pigage

If you were unaware of this gem on campus, there is a lot to see and many opportunities to learn. Elliott, along with Helen Pigage, UCCS biology adjunct professor and wife to the late Jon Pigage, both hold the museum dear to their hearts, to keep Jon’s legacy alive. The history museum provides an experiential learning environment for students and faculty in the field of mammalogy. 

Keeping the museum open and a resource for the UCCS community was a dream of Jon’s before he passed away, and his sister Ellen’s generous contributions to the Jon. C. Legacy Endowment has meant that Jon’s dream is honored.  

Specimens at the museum

“Jon was passionate about the outdoors and being outside,” said Elliott. “The other thing he really was passionate about relative to the university was education, he knew that his goal in life was to be a teacher.”   

Jon Pigage was a lifelong member of the American Society of Mammalogists and established the UCCS Natural History Museum and Wildlife Lab. He managed the biology department’s cadaver laboratory, served as a research associate for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and published many scientific papers on parasites and mammals.  

“I treasured my time with Jon when he took me on trips and he would teach me about mammals,” said Elliott. 

Jon shared his love for education and mammals with those around him, and that love inspired not only his family but many others.  

When you visit the museum today, you will likely run into Helen Pigage. Helen knows about every specimen and has created a binder about each specimen in the museum.  

For Helen, UCCS has been part of her story since 1994, when Jon was hired to teach in the biology department. Helen continues to work in the museum to ensure that the specimens are maintained, and students can learn about the many facets of wildlife research.  

“Maintaining the mammalogy collection in the museum is interesting and challenging for me as I work to carry on Jon’s legacy,” said Helen. 

Wonderful work continues to happen in the museum. Gifts to support that work can be made by contacting Josh Green, Director of Development at [email protected] or call 719-255-5105. 

Watch the full interview with Ellen Elliott here.