|Location||Idaho Falls, Idaho, United States|
The Museum of Idaho is a history and science museum in downtown Idaho Falls, Idaho. Its mission is to educate, inform, and create engaging experiences for the public through exhibits, events, and classes related to the natural environment and cultural history of Idaho and the Intermountain West. It has also become a tourist destination through its prominent traveling exhibits on general-interest subjects. Its tagline is "bringing the world to Idaho, and Idaho to the world".
The museum is a private nonprofit organization with approximately 12 full-time staff, 90 volunteers, and a 16-member board of trustees. The museum receives about 100,000 visitors each year and operates a store that sells books, educational toys, and souvenirs related to Idaho and MOI exhibits.
The Village Improvement Society, a club founded by Idaho Falls women in 1898 to beautify and bring culture to the community, secured a $15,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation to build a public library at the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Elm Street. The Carnegie library was completed in 1916 and served the town for decades before the library outgrew the building and moved to its present location on Broadway. The Bonneville County Historical Society (BCHS) lobbied to save the then-vacant building from demolition in 1975, and renovated it for the Bonneville Museum. The museum had originally been housed in a small room in the Bonneville County Courthouse.
In 1992, in anticipation of future growth, the BCHS purchased property immediately north of the Carnegie building. With help from another private donation of adjacent land, construction began in 2001 on an expansion that enhanced the museum's scope and tripled its size to 30,700 sq. ft. The enhanced institution was renamed the Museum of Idaho and re-opened in 2003.
Since then, the museum has continued to grow, hosting traveling exhibits, more than doubling its collection size, and expanding education and outreach programs. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2018 on another expansion to nearly double its size and provide more space for regional exhibits and artifacts currently in storage, including a life-sized replica of a Columbian mammoth.
The museum displays artifacts relating to early inhabitants, explorers, agriculture, and atomic energy. Notable experiences include the Children's Discovery Room, which includes interactive displays relating to early settlers and natural history; "Eagle Rock, USA", a walkthrough of a street in the 19th-century frontier town before it became Idaho Falls; and the Andrew Henry Rock, which displays the earliest known English-language writing in Idaho (from 1810).
In addition, the museum develops regular exhibits on other topics of regional interest, such as the development of newspapers in eastern Idaho and pioneering local institutions. The museum also holds a free "Olde-Fashioned Christmas and Winter Festivals" exhibit each December.
The museum houses an active collection and continues to collect artifacts, objects, documents, and photographs, as well as stories through an oral history project. Its reading and reference room is open to the public and researchers by appointment.
In addition to its permanent collections and temporary regional displays, the museum hosts between one and three nationally and internationally touring exhibits each year on a variety of themes.
In 2018, the Museum is hosting a new exhibit called "Discover Steampunk," which focuses on seven 19th-century innovators -- Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, Isaac Singer, Thomas Blanchard, Jan Matzeliger, and George Eastman -- and their visions of the future, including machines they dreamed up.
The museum serves thousands of students each year through educational programs and exhibits. The museum hosts school field trips from Idaho and neighboring states, and develops exhibit-related lesson plans and activities for teachers to access online. It also holds one-day classes, and runs programs such as Discovery Day, Meet a Scientist, and Rocky Mountain Adventure Camp.
The museum also holds monthly "Museum After Dark" evening events, such as its Haunted History Tour of downtown Idaho Falls each October, and regular public lectures on subjects in the humanities and sciences.