Everybody Makes History


A Historical Renovation is in the Near Future

by Chelsea Chambers, photos by IHS

People are created in the image of their culture. It builds definition, purpose, and a sense of belonging. With so much history and many stories being passed down through generations, it becomes necessary to have a place that encapsulates the ideas, tribulations, and inventions that have made us what we are.

In 1950, The Idaho State Historical Museum set out to do just that. Being the first museum in Idaho, it became a prominent figurehead in Idaho cultural preservation. But standing at well over 60 years old, the museum was due for an upgrade. The three-year renovation project is well underway and is set to be completed in spring of 2018. Boasting over 45,000 square feet of floor space, the museum will be home to more than 250,000 artifacts and new, interactive exhibits.

The Idaho Historical Society has been planning this renovation for years and aims to create a space that honors and commemorates all aspects of Idaho land, culture, and origin. In June of 2014, they decided on the theme: The Land Shapes the People, The People Shape the Land and with the dedication of dozens of builders, designers, developers, and editors, the Historical Society has crafted a beautiful rendition of exhibits that are fitting for visitors of all ages. In order to create a museum that honors each part of Idaho, they spoke to hundreds of people across our great state. The designs for the project are geared toward ensuring that every part of Idaho gets their deserved recognition. From the northernmost tip of the panhandle all the way to the south, they have an exhibit that shares the stories of all our Idaho history.

With literally thousands of square feet devoted to Idaho, the Historical Society wanted to ensure that the true origins of the state were included. They met with the Native American Tribal Council and spoke with the five Idahoan tribes to get their insights and opinions on what stories should be part of the museum. Working closely with the council, they are further developing Idaho history starting at our very roots.

The museum will also be much more hands-on with the inclusion of Boom Town, a walk-though exhibit that allows visitors to experience history in a live setting. Children can climb through a locomotive, go mining for ore, and inspire creative play for cognitive development. Another addition is the History Lab, where visitors can explore topography, archeology, and artifact identification. The museum aims to create an interactive learning environment for all ages.

The Director of the Idaho State Historical Museum and Old Penitentiary, Jody Ochoa, has been with the Historical Society for over 30 years and can’t wait to see the building completed. It’s well-deserved recognition for the state of Idaho. Ochoa and the Historical Society want all of Idaho to see what they see, “Everybody makes history and everyone’s history is important.”

The preservation of our culture is a vital aspect to growth. As a whole, we must understand our roots in order to progress into the future. There are so many facets of Idaho history and the newly renovated Idaho State Historical Museums wants to honor every single one.