Exhibits at the Idaho State Historical Museum
Essential Idaho:150 Things that Make the Gem State Unique
March 5-December 31
The Museum is extending its winter hours and we'll be open on Sundays in December from 1-5pm. Don't miss this last chance to see the exhibit.
The Idaho State Historical Museum will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the creation of Idaho Territory with a special exhibition called Essential Idaho: 150 Things that Make the Gem State Unique. This major exhibit is one of the largest ever shown at the Museum and features rare artifacts, hands-on learning stations, and compelling stories about our fascinating state. In order to create Essential Idaho, nominations of the people, places, and events that shaped our state were solicited from the public, local museums and historical societies, and Idaho tribes. Using those nominations, a statewide committee of well-known and respected Idaho historians helped create the final list of 150 subjects.
Essential Idaho has something for everyone, whether you’re a long time Idaho resident or completely new to the state. The exhibit is a rich collection of the history, art, and natural wonders that surround us. Discover the diversity of the people who built our state while viewing stunning artifacts like the feathered headdress of Lemhi Shoshoni Chief Tendoy, personal items from famous Chinese pioneer Polly Bemis, or Harmon Killebrew’s Washington Senators jersey. Learn about important events that shaped Idaho history and reverberated across the nation like the Fire of 1910, the Teton Dam Disaster, and Ruby Ridge. Immerse yourself in all things Idaho by dressing up as Lewis and Clark, building your own state capitol, or posing inside a giant baked potato.
Exciting events are being held throughout the year to coincide with the exhibit. Check our event page for details.
Many thanks to all the generous Gem Circle Donors who contributed to this one-of-a-kind exhibit.
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.
The Story of Idaho
Discover how Idaho’s diverse landscape, powerful economic forces, and strong people shaped the state we know today. Rich in the actual objects of the past, some of them thousands of years old, The Story of Idaho takes visitors through the times of Idaho's first residents, missionaries, and fur traders. See how the 1860s gold rush created Idaho Territory, and how pioneer settlement, logging, and farming changed the state’s landscape forever.
Lewis and Clark
The Journey in Idaho traces the voyage of the famous explorers across the West from 1804 to 1806. Learn about the Nez Perce and Shoshoni Indians
who helped Lewis and Clark on their journey through Idaho. See a rare, original Jefferson peace medal from the expedition and examples of wildlife the explorers named for science. Climb aboard a dugout canoe and then take a quiz to see if you can match samples of fur with the wild animals they came from.
Journey to the Gold Mountain
During the American gold rush, many people crossed the Pacific Ocean from China to try to make their fortunes in the Idaho gold fields. Journey to the Gold Mountain: The Chinese in Idaho sheds light on the story of Idaho's early Chinese residents, how they made a living, and the difficulties they faced.
Immerse yourself in the past in the museum’s Hall of Historic Interiors. Richly detailed room settings transport visitors back in time to a frontier saloon, 1860s print shop, and many others.
Enjoy history in the great outdoors with a stroll through the newly renovated and landscaped Pioneer Village next to the museum. Three of the buildings are from Idaho's territorial days and served as homes for prominent local citizens. Learn about centuries-old building techniques, relax a moment in the Lewis and Clark Pavilion, and explore hands-on activities in the lushly landscaped Discovery Trail. For more information contact (208) 334-2120.