This exhibition was the product of two years of scouring the nation for collectors willing to share their treasures and it was the greatest collection of Revolutionary War artifacts west of the Mississippi. Visitors experienced the artifacts that personalized and humanized the men and women who fought the King–and won!
George Washington, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock—you know the names from history books and classrooms.The MOI showcased artifacts from our Founding Fathers, some of which have never been exhibited in public and may never be displayed again. The collection included weapons that were the personal possessions of men such as John Stark who declared, “Live Free or Die!” and a decorative pair of Hessian dueling pistols that were taken after the battle of Trenton. Visitors saw personal items such as a Simon Ross’ powder horn that has an etching of his hometown, Lancaster county, there is no doubt that each time he filled his musket, he remembered exactly why he was fighting.
Visitors to this exhibit got a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs through their eggs, nests and embryos. As visitors wandered through this exhibit, they found themselves envisioning these fearsome creatures as vulnerable little baby animals raised, in some cases, by caring moms or in dinosaur communities. Hatching the Past offered an array of authentic dinosaur eggs and nests collected from all over the world. Although dinosaur eggs were first identified in the 1920s, their scientific significance was not fully understood and recognized until the end of the 20th century. Dinosaur eggs provided fascinating details and insights into the behavior and evolution of dinosaurs.
Sponsored by Chesbro Music Co. and in conjunction with the Interfaith Council, this free community celebration has become one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions. The tree Lighting Ceremony was attended by 100’s of people who were pleased to be greeted by Santa Claus and Ralphie the camel. Live music filled the museum for the duration of the exhibit and visitors were able to look at the nativity scenes from all over the world, the gingerbread houses and the beautifully decorated Christmas Trees.
With more than 200 authentic artifacts on display, visitors experienced pirate life in the 18th century aboard the Whydah, slave ship turned pirate ship. The Whydah was the first fully-authenticated pirate shipwreck ever discovered and the only one in U.S. waters. One of the most technologically advanced vessels of her day, the Whydah was captured by legendary pirate Sam Bellamy and his crew in the early 1700s. It quickly became the flagship of Bellamy’s flotilla, leading raids throughout Caribbean waters and up the Atlantic coastline. On April 26, 1717, a fierce storm plummeted the Whydah, most of her crew, and the bounty from more than 50 captured ships, into the depths of Davey Jones’ Locker, where it remained for over 300 years. Real Pirates shared compelling true stories of the diverse people whose lives converged on the Whydah before it’s demise. From 11-year old John King, who was the youngest-known pirate on the ship, to the ship’s captain, Sam Bellamy, who was known as the “Prince of Pirates” and commonly-referred to as Black Sam, visitors got a rare opportunity to become part of this mysterious world.
Visitors to this exhibition (which was produced in partnership with the hit TV show CSI: Miami,) got a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes of the mysterious world of crime scene investigation and delved into the fascinating field of forensic entomology – the use of insects to reveal critical details of a crime scene. Patrons got a chance to get in touch with their inner sleuth and learned first-hand how insects can be used as evidence in criminal investigations. They also were able to explore the five stages of decomposition and observed real crime scene insects in action, such as carrion beetles, dermested (flesh-eating) beetles, blowflies and their maggots. Visitors were then encouraged to use their newfound forensic crime-solving skills to act as crime solvers while investigating recreated crime scenes.
Visitors to the Museum of Idaho’s 6th Annual Olde Fashioned Christmas & Winter Festivals celebration not only relived the fond memories of their youth but also created new memories with their family and friends that will linger long after the holiday glow dissipates.
Sponsored by Chesbro Music Co. and in conjunction with the Interfaith Council, this free community celebration has become one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions. A beautiful tree, donated by the City of Idaho Falls, stood regally in the plaza. Its heavy branches, decorated with hundreds of twinkle lights, beckoned visitors to step inside and leave the hectic world of holiday consumerism behind. Once inside visitors were delighted at how all the little elves transformed the museum into a unique and nostalgic holiday delight. They wandered through an abundance of whimsical Santa figurines, hundreds of beautifully displayed nativities from different parts of the world, scrumptious looking gingerbread houses, and magnificently adorned trees. Visitors also had the opportunity to experience diverse cultural holiday traditions such as Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and the Winter Solstice, and learned how people from all around the world come together in celebration of this special time of year.
The Museum of Idaho was proud to be the 3rd museum in the U.S. (and the 5th in the world) to host Race to the End of the Earth. It was a remarkable opportunity for visitors to become part of the epic journey between competing teams, one led by Norwegian adventurer and explorer, Roald Amundsen, and the other by British Royal Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott, in their quest to be the first to reach the South Pole. Rare, historical artifacts from Amundsen and Scott’s expeditions gave visitors a glimpse into this story of triumph, tragedy, and the strength of the human spirit, as well as what it would have been like to travel to the coldest place on Earth 100 years ago and what it is like to be there today. Patrons were also immersed in the science, wildlife, and wonders of Antarctica as they visualized weather systems and ocean currents, watched an iceberg calve, and discovered how scientists think the warming of this area will affect the rest of the planet. Photographs, paintings, and rare historical artifacts from Amundsen and Scott’s expeditions are also featured.
This family-friendly exhibition dove deep into the darkest corners of our earth to explore one of nature’s most peculiar and least understood phenomenon – bioluminescence. Bioluminescence allows creatures, from the flickering fireflies found in backyards to alien-like fish that illuminate the depths of the oceans, to produce light for communicating, camouflage, attracting prey, and for other reasons scientists still don’t understand. Interactive components and engaging videos enhanced the visitor’s experience and allowed visitors to embark on an amazing journey that broadened their knowledge of this mystery of nature, and related phenomena, as they explored the diversity of organisms that glow.
Filled with an undeniable energy, GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World instantly brought out the rock star in all of us. Presented by Chesbro Music Co. this exhibit explored this special instrument and it’s impact on rock and roll and pop culture in general. It was packed with hands-on interactives, touch screens, performance videos and, of course, guitars. Ancient versions such as the sitar and oud as well as popular electrics like Gibson and Fender were showcased alongside celebrity-owned favorites. Visitors even had the chance to be part of history and play the world’s largest guitar (as recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records) measuring in at over 43 feet.
“We are not heroes, we were doing what we were raised to do…protect our family by protecting (our) country”. – Anonymous WWII Veteran.
As the 70th anniversary of the United States official entry into World War II approached, A Grateful Nation: A Look Back at WWII commemorated the hundreds of thousands courageous men and women who fought and sacrificed their lives to make allied victories possible. This exhibition gave visitors the chance to experience the stories of soldiers and civilians who served their country with courage, faith, and a strong resolved to win in the struggle against tyranny during some of the darkest days in history.
The third annual Olde Fashioned Christmas & Festivals was presented free to the public, once again thanks to Chesbro Music Company, the city of Idaho Falls and the Interfaith Council. Many of the items on display had been loaned or donated by the community resulting in an eclectic array of seasonal items. A popular tradition among the locals, the celebration offered a blend of the old and the new of the Holiday season.
When the Museum of Idaho hosted Decoding da Vinci visitors had the pleasure of glimpsing into the mind of one of the most remarkable men in history, Leonardo da Vinci. This hands-on exhibition included 60 full-sized interactive machines brought to life from the pages of da Vinci’s notes that were built with authentic materials found during the 15th century Italy. Also on display were reproductions of da Vinci’s artwork and original da Vinci documents.
Wolf to Woof the Story of Dogs was the largest and most comprehensive traveling exhibition ever created on the history, biology and evolution of dogs. The exhibit sniffed out the facts on the unique role of dogs in human societies and what makes the dog and human relationship so special and endearing.
The second annual Olde Fashioned Christmas & Winter Festivals celebration was remarkable community event. Once again, with the help of the Chesbro Music Company, the Interfaith Council and the city of Idaho Falls we were able to bring the community together to celebrate and share the traditions we all hold dear. During this festive time of year, it seems our differences fade and fellowship grows stronger. Visitors were able to view nativities from around the world, learned the history of Santa Claus, gazed at Gingerbread creations and enjoyed a variety of nutcrackers. Additionally, visitors learned more about the culture and traditions surrounding Hannukah, Kawanza and Winter Solstice.
To celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of our 16th president, the Museum of Idaho proudly hosted an exhibit in his honor. Lincoln…Preservation of a Nation was a Museum of Idaho-exclusive exhibit that came into existence thanks, in large part, to the generosity of individual collectors, and ended up becoming the largest Lincoln exhibit west of the Mississippi. With nearly 500 original artifacts, the exhibit enthralled almost 19,000 people in the 2 months it was on display. The exhibit included Lincoln documents from his time on the circuit court, his campaigns, and his presidency. There were slave deeds and shackles from the early 1900s. The Civil War component was made up of military documents, uniforms, and weapons including two 12-pound Napoleon cannons – one from the North and the other from the South.
From the cold depths of the Atlantic in 1912, the amazing stories of fear and heroism came to light in the Titanic exhibition. Over 100,000 visitors toured representations of cabins and passages where they could almost feel the ocean’s movement. Patrons explored a unique collection of artifacts that brought the horror of the ship’s fateful maiden voyage to heart. While there were items of glamorous and opulence, there were also those common artifacts, which reminded us that the passengers were also everyday people. Visitors identified with the panic of the passengers and crew once they placed their hands on the iceberg as visions of being submerged in the frigid waters flooded their minds. Patrons received a replica of a boarding pass of an actual passenger and discovered their fate at the end of their exhibition journey on the Memorial Wall.
The Museum of Idaho began 2009 with a nostalgic road trip that was a great trip down memory lane for some and a trek into the unexplored for others. Vistors explored vintage automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles from the turn of the century through the 1950’s. Local enthusiasts who were willing to share their talents and passions with the community assembled the exhibition. In the automobile section of the exhibit, everything from a 1903 Rambler to a 1946 Lincoln was showcased. Bicycles included an 1898 Ames and Frost ladies model with skirt protectors. Motorcycles were well represented with models like a 1949 AJS. All of the artifacts came from local donors or the Museum of Idaho Collections Department.
During December of 2009, the Museum of Idaho showcased the first Olde Fashioned Christmas and Winter Festivals. It has since become a beloved tradition that hundreds of families have enjoyed every year. The event began when the Museum of Idaho partnered with the Idaho Falls Interfaith Council, the city of Idaho Falls and the Chesbro Music Company. It was designed to bring together diverse celebrations and traditions of various faiths and beliefs and to bring our community together during the holiday season. The Museum of Idaho began this event with the goal of making it free to the public every year and we have continued that tradition so that the event can be a family event that spans many generations.
The Museum of Idaho is proud to have offered this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition to our region. Idaho Falls was the first city to host World of the Pharoahs in its four-year international tour. The exhibition was from the esteemed Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which boasts on of the finest collections of Ancient Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt. Over 85,000 visitors glimpsed into the lives of these amazing people through authentic artifacts dating back 6,000 years. From a 2-ton granite statue of Ramesses II to a rare reserve head, over 200 artifacts provided visitors with an opportunity to understand the beliefs, politics, religion, art and everyday life of this extraordinary ancient culture.
Visitors stepped back in time and discovered what Idaho Falls might have looked like during the Ice Age, where massive mammals such as the giant ground sloth, mammoth, woolly rhino and sabertooth cat roamed our area as well as the rest of the world. The exhibition also included giant beaver and a rendition of a cat attack which depicted how the sabertooths might have hunted.
Ink and Blood was a world-class exhibition that contained over 125 authentic artifacts of some of the most exciting discoveries ever made. The showcase included authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments, cuneiform tablets dating back 5,000 years to Mesopotamia, examples of the first writing ever from Egypt and China, cultural artifacts from the Roman Empire, the most complete collection of historic bibles available, and a working replica of the Gutenberg press. Visitors viewed priceless artifacts and learned about the history of civilizations, the origin of the written word, the revolution of printing and the dynamic history of the bible.
This exhibition focused on the history of guns and fly-fishing in the West. The gun portion of the exhibit spanned more than 600 years of history beginning with the first gun ever made in the 15th century, and ending with some of the most famous machine guns of World War II. Many of the guns and artifacts came from the gunslinger era, including some well-known gambling paraphernalia from the infamous Irma Hotel and an actual Gatling Gun. Some of the featured items were Jesse James’ gun, Butch Cassidy’s cabin door and Israel Putnam’s sword.
The Savage Seas exhibition focused on the sea creatures that ruled the ocean while T. Rex roamed the land. Visitors traveled 70 million years to a time when 40- foot long mosasaurs, flesh eating fish and 15-foot long seas turtles ruled the shallow sea from the Artic Circle to the Gulf of Mexico in North America. Models of nearly 65 prehistoric creatures of the sea and air hung from the ceiling. A 45-foot-long tylosaurus skeleton greeted visitors at the front door with 5-foot long jaw opened and ready to engulf large prey.
Secrets of the Cave offered a rare glimpse in the lives of the indigenous people who occupied the Great Basin several thousand years ago. This exhibition included approximately 2,000 artifact from 12,000 years ago. The amazing condition of items such as ancient basketry and moccasins are rare finds since they only survive under the ideal conditions. Because these items sheltered in the unique environment of a dry cave, visitors got the extraordinary chance to view moccasins with the red ochre color still visible, a necklace with the string still attached, woven mats and snares. Some of these artifacts are a part of the Museum of Idaho permanent collection, and they will be displayed once again in the near future.
NASA’s first major exhibition shown in Idaho, Montana or Utah occurred at the Museum of Idaho during the fist half of 2006. The exhibit contained an Iridium Satellite Phone which allowed visitors to call anywhere in the world. Visitors also got to experience full-scale reproductions of the International Space Station and Russian MIR laboratories, flight simulators and an authentic moon rock from the Apollo era. Adventurous visitors took a rare opportunity to experience the Multi-axis astronaut trainer, a device traditionally used to acclimate new astronauts to the rigors of weightlessness in space.
The Museum of Idaho was infested with giant insects at the close of 2004. The World of Giant Insects exhibition showcased insects of varying sizes. The robotic praying Mantis arrived in a semi trailer and was 60 times larger than life, the fighting Atlas Beetles were 40 larger and the stick insect was 120 times it’s life size. The display also included a variety of preserved insects from around the world including a moth and butterfly collection with over 1,000 specimens. Local children were introduced to the idea that insects are a great source of protein. The brave few who ate them reported they wouldn’t ever become a favorite after school snack.
Throughout the summer of 2004, the Museum of Idaho displayed the largest exhibition commemorating the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition found anywhere in the country. It included over 1,000 artifacts and showcased the interaction between the Corps of Discovery, Sacajawea and the Shoshone people who helped make the journey a success. Many artifacts from this elaborate exhibit are part of our permanent collection; some of them are displayed in our Idaho History Room.
A human from 10,000 years ago would have been able to observe a 14ft tall Columbian Mammoth walk across the land where Idaho Falls is located today. During 2004, the Museum of Idaho showcased 10,000 years of Idaho History in our Columbian Mammoth exhibition. The exhibit included our very own Columbian Mammoth and the fossilized skeletons of the Sabertooth cat (Smilodin fatalis), Short-faced bear (Artodus simus), Dire wolf (Canis dirus), and an American Lion (Panthera leo atrox). All of these artifacts are apart of our permanent collection and we will be displaying them on a permanent basis in the near future.
The Museum of Idaho had a T-Rex named Sue at the Grand Opening of our newly-remodeled facility during 2003. The exhibition contained full-sized skeletons, skulls, dioramas and of course, Sue a cast of the largest T. rex ever found. More than 118,000 people came to witness the dinosaur extravaganza and to celebrate the expanded museum which not only focuses on Idaho’s rich cultural and natural history but also brings unique opportunities to our region by show-casing world class traveling exhibitions.