Idaho State Historical Society Exhibits
Idaho State Historical Museum
Treat yourself to a visit to the Idaho State Historical Museum and experience the rich cultural heritage of the unique place that is Idaho. Learn the state’s story through objects, photographs, and first-person accounts the museum has carefully preserved for generations. Extensive collections of artifacts and interactive exhibits vividly bring to life Idaho’s past for visitors of all ages. Children will enjoy trying out a variety of saddles, touching an actual hydraulic “giant” mining nozzle, and taking a virtual tour of the Oregon Trail in Idaho. Exhibits dramatically convey the differences between daily life in Idaho “then” and now.
Old Idaho Penitentiary
Prepare to be amazed as you visit one of the nation’s largest collections of historic arms and military memorabilia at the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit: Arms and Armament through the Ages, located in the Old Idaho Penitentiary. The wide-ranging collection and dramatic settings illustrate the development of weapons throughout history. The exhibit includes ancient Luristan bronzes, medieval arms and armor, Revolutionary War firearms and swords, Civil War artifacts, and an 1883 Gatling gun on its original carriage. Pistols, rifles, machine guns, mortars, and cannons from many of the countries involved in World Wars I and II are also featured. The Idaho Crime, Boise Time exhibit explores the reasons for selecting Boise as its location and the use of area resources such as the Table Rock quarry. The Marked Men exhibit is located in the former Barber Shop at the Old Pen. It explores the history, meaning, and method of prison tattooing through the centuries and around the world. Contraband tattoo artifacts and photographs of inmates from several state and federal prisons are included in the exhibit.
Idaho State Capitol
Make your visit to Idaho’s State Capitol more meaningful by experiencing the Governing Idaho: How People and Policies Shape our State exhibit developed by the Idaho State Historical Society. This unique and award-winning exhibit, located on the Garden Level of the Idaho Capitol tells the story of our capitol building, provides a concise and colorful history of Idaho state government, explains how it works, and inspires peoples to participate actively in their government. While on the Garden Level, visitors can also see the temporary exhibitions which are changed by the Historical Society periodically throughout the year.
Franklin Pioneer Byway and Interpretive Center
Follow the Pioneer Byway to the new Interpretive Center in Franklin, Idaho. Housed in the Lorenzo Hill Hatch and Doney Houses, the beautiful exhibits trace the regional history of south-eastern Idaho through Mormon settlement and modern agricultural development. Franklin was settled in 1862, when pioneers mistakenly thought they were forming a new Utah community. As it turned out, however, Franklin was located in Idaho, and the community grew as a Mormon settlement and center of commerce. Freight wagons, stages, and later railroads carried mining and agricultural products, and early tourists to Yellowstone National Park. Into the twentieth century, Franklin grew as an agricultural hub, producing a wide variety of food crops and developing a major mink industry. Visit the interpretive center and picture Franklin’s rich heritage and pioneering spirit.
Rock Creek Station Interpretive Center
Visit the Stricker Home Site near Hansen, Idaho, and tour the outstanding Rock Creek Station Interpretive Center. Completed in the fall of 2010, this state-of-the-art interpretive center tells the story of south-central Idaho from the natural history of the torrential Bonneville flood through Native American use, Oregon Trail emigration and early settlement to modern agricultural development of the area. Stricker Home Site and Rock Creek Station were visited by a cross section of characters: Oregon Trail emigrants bound for the Willamette Valley, freighters, cowboys and miners, scoundrels and hoodlums, Indian visitors, Chinese entrepreneurs, British, Russian, Danish, Swedish, Irish settlers, and of course, women and children. Come learn their stories and take home a vision of the real American West.
Off the beaten path in north-central Idaho stands the state’s oldest public building, the 1862 Shoshone County Courthouse. Outside the building is a wayside exhibit and inside is a series of panels detailing the area’s pioneering history. The establishment of the Courthouse followed the first gold discovery in Idaho and the ensuing gold rush into the heart of the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. The log building symbolizes the effects of the early gold rush on the Nez Perce people and the cascading events of gold discoveries following. Visit the Courthouse, enjoy the history within its walls, and reflect on the complex stories of the legendary Pacific Northwest.