Museum of Idaho Overview and History
The Museum of Idaho is a free-standing, non-profit organization dedicated to bringing internationally- & nationally-acclaimed exhibits to southeast Idaho, preserving and showcasing natural and cultural history, and providing unique educational opportunities for everyone.
Located on the edge of Idaho Falls’ historic downtown and at the crossroad between Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, Sun Valley, Craters of the Moon National Monument, and home to some of the greatest skiing, fishing, and hunting, the Museum of Idaho is perched on what locals and tourists alike refer to as the “greatest location in all of the world.”
More than just a museum, the Museum of Idaho is a tourist destination, a hub for activity, and a springboard for educating and enlightening minds. With an economic impact of over 41 million in the first 9 years of operations, the Museum of Idaho brings in internationally- and nationally- acclaimed exhibits that reach visitors over three times the local population annually.
The Museum of Idaho has worked with renowned institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Field Museum in Chicago (among others) to bring amazing opportunities to the region such as, A T. rex Named Sue, Real Pirates, World of the Pharaohs, Titanic, Decoding DaVinci, and BODIES…The Exhibition (just to name a few.
Before the Museum of Idaho came into existence, there was the Bonneville County Historical Society (BCHS). Even though the Museum of Idaho operates under their current name, they are still operated by the BCHS, and the BCHS is still housed in the older section of the Museum of Idaho.
Formed in 1975, the BCHS was organized when the city made plans to tear down an empty library building after it sat vacant for over 10 years. The original structure was built in 1916 to house the Andrew Carnegie Library and it was later transformed into a museum by the BCHS.
In 1992, the BCHS purchased the parking lot north of the museum, and in the year 2000, the former Masonic temple building and parking lot north of it were purchased by the Carr Foundation. With the purchase of these pieces, the building and the land were used to expand the museum into what is now the Museum of Idaho – a building now triple in size from its original form.
On the National Historic Registry since 1983, the Museum of Idaho came into existence in 2003 when the doors were first opened to the public on February 18th under the new name.