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Museum of Idaho
Museum of Idaho logo.png
Museum of Idaho exterior.jpg
Established 2003
Location Idaho Falls, Idaho, United States
Type history, science

The Museum of Idaho (MOI) is a history and science museum in downtown Idaho Falls, Idaho. Its mission is to educate, inform, and create engaging experiences for the public through exhibits, events, and classes related to the natural environment and cultural history of Idaho and the Intermountain West. It has also become a tourist destination through its prominent traveling exhibits on general-interest subjects.

The museum is a private nonprofit organization with approximately 12 full-time staff, 90 volunteers, and a 16-member board of trustees. The museum receives about 100,000 visitors each year and operates a store that sells books, educational toys, and souvenirs related to Idaho and MOI exhibits.


The Village Improvement Society, a club founded by Idaho Falls women in 1898 to beautify and bring culture to the growing frontier town, secured a $15,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation in 1913 to build a public library at Eastern Avenue and Elm Street. The Carnegie library was built between 1914 and 1916 and served the town until 1977, when the library moved into a new building. Meanwhile, the Bonneville County Historical Society (BCHS), formed in 1975, began displaying artifacts in a small room in the basement of the Bonneville County Courthouse in 1979. The BCHS lobbied to save the then-vacant library building from demolition, and raised money to transform it into the Bonneville Museum, which opened in 1985.

The historic building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 as the Idaho Falls Public Library.

In 1992, in anticipation of future growth, the BCHS purchased property immediately north of the Carnegie building. In 2000, local philanthropist Greg Carr offered to donate the nearby former Masonic Temple to allow the BCHS to expand its building if they also agreed to expand its mission to include traveling exhibits and other offerings beyond Bonneville County's borders. A two-story atrium structure was built connecting the Carnegie building and the Masonic building, and the resulting institution opened in 2003 as the Museum of Idaho.

Since then, the museum has continually expanded its mission and offerings to include a wide array of educational programming. Following a capital campaign, the museum expanded yet again, opening a new traveling exhibit hall, education center, and lobby in 2019. A wholesale renovation of the Carnegie and atrium buildings is scheduled to finish in late 2020 with a newly created flagship exhibit on Idaho history


Museum of Idaho Eagle Rock USA exhibit
The "Eagle Rock, USA" exhibit represents ten local businesses from the late 19th century.

Idaho exhibits

The museum owns permanent collections pertaining mostly to Idaho history across several disciplines, including paleontology and geology, as well as native inhabitants and early settlers. Museum staff curates in-house exhibits based on these collections. Notable experiences include the Marie Putnam Discovery Room, which includes kids' play areas relating to early settlers and natural history, and “Eagle Rock, USA”, a walkthrough of a street in the 19th-century frontier town before it became Idaho Falls. Notable artifacts include a life-size Columbian mammoth replica, a unique Revolutionary War-era American flag, one of the world's first snowmobiles, and remnants from the nearby National Reactor Testing Station's pioneering early research on atomic energy.

In 2018, the museum announced plans to overhaul its Idaho exhibits and create a comprehensive new regional exhibit called "Way Out West," scheduled to open in late 2020.

Research and archives

The museum houses an active collection and continues to collect artifacts, objects, documents, and photographs, as well as stories through an oral history project. Its reading and reference room is open to the public and researchers by appointment.

Special exhibits

In addition to its permanent collections and temporary regional displays, the museum hosts 1-3 special exhibits each year on a variety of themes. Most are national and international touring exhibitions.


  • A T-Rex Named Sue (2003)
  • Columbian Mammoth (2003)
  • Discovering Idaho: The World of Lewis and Clark (2004)
  • The World of Giant Insects (2004)
  • Space Journey (2005)
  • Secrets of the Cave (2005)
  • Savage Seas (2006)
  • Guns & Hooks (2006)
  • Ink & Blood: Dead Sea Scrolls to the King James Bible (2007)
  • Ice Age Mammals (2007)
  • World of the Pharaohs (2008)
  • Wheels: Are We There Yet? (displays on classic cars, motorcycles, and bicycles) (2009)
  • Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition (2009)
  • Lincoln: Preservation of a Nation (2009)
  • Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs (2010)
  • Decoding Da Vinci (2010)
  • Bodies: The Exhibition (2011)
  • A Grateful Nation: A Look Back at WWII (2011)
  • Teeth, Tails, and Trouble: A T-Rex Named Sue & How to Raise a Dinosaur (2012)
  • King Tut: Treasures of the Tomb (2012)
  • Carousels: Art and History in Motion (2013)
  • Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World (2013)
  • Race to the End of the Earth (displays on South Pole exploration, organized by the American Museum of Natural History) (2014)
  • Glow: Living Lights (displays on bioluminescence) (2014)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Insects (2015)
  • Real Pirates (2015)
  • Hatching the Past: The Search for Dinosaur Eggs and Babies (2016)
  • America’s Revolution: Rebels with a Cause (2016)
  • Rome: Military Genius and Mighty Machines (2017)
  • Space: A Journey to Our Future (2017)
  • Dinosaurs in Motion (2018)
  • Discover Steampunk (2018)
  • Archimedes: Science and Innovations (2019)
  • Darwin & Dinosaurs (2019)

Education and outreach

The museum serves tens of thousands of students each year through educational programs and exhibits. The museum hosts school field trips from Idaho and neighboring states, and develops exhibit-related lesson plans and activities for teachers to access online. It also holds one-day classes, and runs programs such as Discovery Day, Meet a Scientist, and Rocky Mountain Adventure Camp.

The museum also holds monthly "Museum After Dark" evening events, such as its Haunted History Tour of downtown Idaho Falls each October, and regular public lectures on subjects in the humanities and sciences.

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