The grand re-opening of the Idaho State Museum in Julia Davis Park has been a long time coming, but the wait was worth it!

The Gem State has anxiously been waiting to get their first look at the $17 million expansion to the museum. It's been four years since the museum closed to guests and crews got to work on the renovation and expansion project.  The invited us to take a sneak peek before it opens to the public Friday, October 12 at 9 a.m. and let me tell you...the wait was worth it!

The newly remodeled focuses on Idaho's land and it's relationship with the people who built our great state and people who still live there today in a really unique way! Yes, you'll find over 500+ artifacts highlighted on text panels inside the galleries, but the museum gives you a chance to interact with history with over 46 multimedia displays and hand on activities.  If you truly wanted to enjoy everything the renovated museum had to offer you, it's probably take you somewhere from 5-6 hours! That's why I wanted to highlight some of the coolest things we saw so that you don't miss them!

1) Interactive Landscape

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

Once you get through the lobby, you're immediately greeted by a huge, three dimensional video wall playing photos of beautiful landscapes from across the state.  During our tour, the wall was highlighting Sun Valley and showing how it changed throughout the seasons: that included snow gently falling on the mountains as people made their way down the slopes, the beautiful summer landscape you're used to seeing during the Sawtooth Relay and even a 4th of July fireworks show! Make sure you touch the video river in front of it! It'll give you some fun early Idaho history facts or let you make the butterflies resting on leaves fly away!

2) Origins Theater

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

Have a seat in the beautiful Origins Theater and hear the origin stories from Idaho's Native American tribes. The films are short and include some of the tribe's native language.  The museum is very proud of this theater because they worked with the tribes while creating the films to makes sure that the origin stories were told as the tribes believed them, rather than other historians just saying "this is the way it was."

3) The Big Burn

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

Growing up in Ohio, I'd actually never heard about the 1910 Big Burn until this visit to the museum! During a particularly dry summer, a perfect storm of winds and lighting came together to ignite a fire that spread to nearly nearly 3 million acres of land in Idaho and Montana.  The interactive display works in quotes from forest managers, firefighters and residents as it shows how quickly the massive fire grew.  In addition to the video, they've worked in some technology that lets you actually feel the winds pick up around you.

4) Geronimo!

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I still think that the parachuting beavers was the most bizarre event to happen in Idaho in the past 70 years.  Long story short? People started to build homes in McCall after World War II and kept running into problems with beavers destroying the under construction lake houses.  A planned was devised to relocate the beavers by throwing them out of airplanes...no joke! This exhibit explains the story.

5) History Lab

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

We had a blast down in the history lab, especially with the "history mystery" hands-on experience! The "history mystery" shows you a photo and you have to take a guess as to what was happening in the photo, who lived in a house, etc.  Through each round, you get a hint at the answer and an option to change your response.  We learned a lot of things we didn't know happened in Idaho's history through that experience alone!

That's just 5 things you MUST check out, but there's a ton of other fun things like the kid-friendly Boomtown, interactive bike ride and a look at the inaugural ball gowns worn by Idaho's First Ladies over the years! Wanna check it out this weekend? Here's what you need to know!

Grand Opening Weekend Schedule

Friday | 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

A ribbon cutting ceremony kicks off the day with speeches from Idaho dignitaries including Governor Otter and the First Lady, performance of "America the Beautiful" by Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb and flag raising ceremony.  Food trucks, fun activities for kids, gallery talks and tribal performances will rotate throughout the day!

Saturday | 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Food trucks, fun activities for kids, gallery talks and tribal performances will rotate throughout the day! Make sure you check out the photo booth too! If you don't want to park at Julia Davis Park, you can catch a FREE shuttle leaving from the BSU Brady Street Garage or Clearwater Analytics approximately every 30 minutes.

Sunday | 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

A more low-key day, but fun kids activities like the Geronimo Beaver Toss and Potato Sack Races are still going on!

Admission Prices

  • Adults 18-59: $10
  • Seniors 60+, Students with ID and Veterans: $8
  • Children/Youth: $5
  • EBT Cardholders: $3 (valid for up to four individuals for card)
  • Members: FREE!

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