Bringing the world to Idaho, and Idaho to the world.
The Museum of Idaho engages, educates, and enlightens through exhibits, collections, and informal educational opportunities in the humanities and sciences.
CONNECTION • EXPLORATION • INCLUSION • PROFESSIONALISM • SUSTAINABILITY
The Museum of Idaho is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit.
The Village Improvement Society – a club founded by Idaho Falls women in 1898 to beautify and bring culture to their wild, dusty frontier town – secured a $15,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation to build a public library at the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Elm Street. The Idaho Falls Public Library, erected between 1914 and 1916, served the town in that location until 1977, before outgrowing the building and moving a few blocks away. Meanwhile, the Bonneville County Historical Society (BCHS), which had their eye on the building, opened a small museum in the basement of the Bonneville County Courthouse in 1979. The BCHS lobbied to save the library building, getting it placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, and raising funds for its renovation. The Bonneville Museum moved in in 1985. Volunteers ran each element, including creating the original Idaho history exhibits, some of which still remain on display.
Starting in 1992, the BCHS acquired land adjacent to the Museum through purchase and donation, and construction began in 2001 on an expansion that enhanced the Museum’s scope and tripled its size. When it reopened in 2003 as the Museum of Idaho, it became the largest museum in the state.
Since then, the Museum has served more than a million patrons. It has continued to grow its collections and programming, and has hosted an array of high-profile traveling exhibits. For example, in 2011, MOI made Idaho Falls among the smallest cities in the world to host the worldwide sensation, Bodies: The Exhibition. MOI was also one of only four official NASA viewing sites for the total solar eclipse of August 2017.
In 2019, following the successful completion of a five-year capital campaign, MOI nearly doubled in size yet again, adding a new traveling exhibit hall, education center, curation space, lobby, store, and more. Learn more on the expansion page, including information about the ongoing renovations to the museum's older spaces in preparation for a late 2020 opening of a new East Idaho exhibit, The Way Out West.