Thanks to a partnership with Westmark Credit Union, the Museum of Idaho in downtown Idaho Falls will host a new long-term exhibit beginning next fall.
Once completed, “Way out West” will highlight the entire history of east Idaho in its many capacities. Construction is already in the early stages at the museum that’s currently spotlighting the Darwin and Dinosaurs exhibit.
Westmark Credit Union, a long-time sponsor of the museum, announced recently they’ll donate $500,000 to fund research and development of the gallery that will cover Idaho social, cultural, scientific and political history.
A case statement about the exhibit on the museum’s website billed the gallery-to-be as “The campaign to tell East Idaho’s story right…and right now.”
Jeff Carr, director of public relations at the Museum of Idaho, told BYU-Idaho Radio the donation and recently expanded museum property will allow them to cover Idaho history in ways they haven’t been able to in the past.
“But now we’re able to sort of start from scratch and really write the entire story of eastern Idaho going back to the earliest humans that were here some 14-15,000 years ago and really talk from the ground up about what makes this region special,” Carr said in an interview.
Renderings of the proposed gallery show full-size displays of ancient animals, pioneering-age artifacts, a mock town main street, a gigantic map of Idaho and Native American relics, among many other items.
The gallery will be about three times larger than any coverage of Idaho history they’ve housed in the past, Carr said. They plan to keep the exhibit on display for 10-12 years.
The museum is partnering with the Shoshone-Bannock tribes to tell tribal history that predates outside historical records. Carr said they want the tribes to represent their own story to be sure they are telling their story “for themselves.”
The decision to create the exhibit reflects a subtle shift in mindset the museum has recently made. Of the roughly 1 million annual visitors to the museum, about half are from out of state, Carr said. They hope to accommodate those people more effectively.
“They’re not here to learn about Titanic or Archimedes or Bodies (past exhibits)…they’re here to learn about Idaho,” Carr said of out-of-state visitors. “It’s very often their first time in Idaho and we have an opportunity to show off everything this region has to offer.”
Admission to the Museum of Idaho is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors (62+), and $10 for youth and college students. Family and group pricing is also available.
More information about the institution is available at museumofidaho.org.