#18 Summers- Visit Idaho Museums to Spark Imaginations

By Laurie McConnell, Idaho Tourism

In researching this post, I learned about museums I didn’t even know we have here in Idaho. There are historical museums, flood museums, bird museums, Native American museums, arts and science museums and many more. The museums I’ve listed below focus on a specific subject, such as potatoes, aviation or mining, and are clustered within regions of the state. Just because it is summer break doesn’t mean our brains stop learning, so include some of these museums in your Idaho vacation and open your family’s eyes to new ideas and interests.

Eastern Idaho

Metallic guard at the Museum of Clean.

Metallic guard at the Museum of Clean.

Farnsworth TV & Pioneer Museum Learn about early photography and Philo T. Farnsworth (the inventor of television), and see Native American artifacts and ancient Egyptian artifacts from biblical days. (Rigby)

Museum of Clean Here, at a museum dedicated to the history and promotion of cleaning, there is a high value on clean. Kids have hands-on fun, without even realizing they are learning the importance of a clean home, clean community and clean world. (Pocatello)

Idaho Potato Museum From the original potato planted in Idaho, to the largest potato crisp made by the Pringle’s Company, you’ll be intrigued as you stroll through this museum built in 1912. Learn about potato history, the growing/harvesting process, nutrition, trivia and educational potato facts. (Blackfoot)

Collector’s Corner Museum Over 100 collections on exhibit including dolls, bears, antiques, trains, coins, stamps and military memorabilia. (Idaho Falls)

Experimental Breeder Reactor-I (EBR-I) Atomic Museum See where usable electricity was first generated from nuclear energy in 1951, along with four nuclear reactors, two aircraft nuclear propulsion prototypes, a reactor control room, radiation detection equipment and more. (Arco)

Legacy Flight Museum The Legacy Flight Museum is an operational hanger and all aircraft are airworthy. See the machines that have served our country and provided us with the freedoms we currently enjoy. (Rexburg)

Shoshone Bannock Tribal Museum The museum exhibits showcase Chief Pocatello, tribal history, old photographs from 1895, artifacts from the Old Fort Hall and unique beadwork. (Fort Hall)

Idaho Museum of Natural History Home to collections in anthropology, earth sciences, and life sciences, the museum nurtures an understanding of and delight in Idaho’s natural and cultural heritage. (Pocatello)

Northern Idaho

Exhibits at Bird Aviation Museum.

Exhibits at Bird Aviation Museum.

Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center Learn about the historic contributions of aviators and innovators who have helped create modern technology and celebrate these individuals who have forever changed the way we live. (Sagle)

Wallace District Mining Museum Artifacts, models, photographs, paintings and displays of mining activity and techniques take you back in time and deep into the history of one of the most lucrative mining districts in the country. (Wallace)

Oasis Bordello Museum (Perhaps not suitable for younger kids unless you’re up to answering the questions sure to be asked.) The museum is housed in a former brothel which operated as recently as 1988. The final occupants left in a hurry, leaving their belongings behind in the upper rooms, and there is a still and an old wine press in the basement. (Wallace)

Appaloosa Museum Located in the heart of Palouse Country, home of the Appaloosa breed, the museum illustrates the history of the Appaloosa horse and its region of origin. Get nutty at the super fun, hands-on Kid’s Area or visit the outdoor Appaloosa exhibit in the summer. (Moscow)

J. Howard Bradbury Logging Museum – Housed in a 1928 log cabin, it preserves the local mining and logging history. (Pierce)

Southwestern/Central Idaho

Warhawk Air Museum The museum represents the American experience of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk

Curtiss P-40N at Warhawk Air Museum.

Vietnam War. Enter a world of sweetheart pillows, ration books, and Victory Puzzles and see two of only a few remaining Curtiss P-40 World War II fighter airplanes left in the world, a very rare World War II P-51C razorback Mustang fighter airplane and others. (Nampa)

Discovery Center of Idaho See, touch and hear more than 130 hands-on science exhibits. Blow a 3-foot bubble, build an arch and capture your shadow. (Boise)

Basque Museum & Cultural Center A tour is an enriching experience for everyone, especially students from Idaho and the western United States. See the exhibits and tour the boarding house for a look into the colorful Basque culture. (Boise)

Idaho Black History Museum Learn about the history and culture of African Americans with special emphasis on African Americans in Idaho. The museum displays permanent and travelling exhibits. (Boise)

Idaho Military History Museum Enjoy displays that interpret military history and artifacts that have a geographical tie to the history of the people and State of Idaho. (Boise)


Meteorites display at Museum of Mining & Geology.

Meteorites at the Museum of Mining & Geology.

Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology Located next to the Old Penitentiary, the IMMG offers exhibits and educational programs about Idaho’s fascinating geologic history and rich mining heritage. See minerals, gems, meteorites, fossils and fluorescent rocks and check the seismic station for earthquakes. (Boise)

J. Curtis Earl Arms Collection The wide-ranging collection and dramatic settings illustrate the development of weapons throughout history and includes ancient Luristan bronzes, medieval arms and armor, Revolutionary War firearms and swords, Civil War artifacts, an 1883 Gatling gun on its original carriage and much more. (Boise-inside the Old Idaho Penitentiary)

Lincoln Legacy Exhibition  Explore the chronological and topical depiction of Abraham Lincoln’s life, achievements, and relations with the West.  Books, letters, photographs, publications, cartoons, relics and Lincoln family items are now part of the collection of the Idaho State Archives located at 2205 Old Penitentiary Rd. (Boise)

Old Idaho Penitentiary The Old Pen opened in 1872 to some of the West’s most desperate criminals. Today, visitors can experience over 100 years of Idaho’s unique prison history with a visit to solitary confinement, cell blocks and the Gallows. (Boise)

World Center for Birds of Prey Explore and discover the amazing world of raptors eye to eye. Outside, see native and non-native birds and the California Condor exhibit, then continue your experience indoors with daily raptor presentations, interactive exhibits and tours of the Archives of Falconry. (Boise)

Herrett Center for Arts and Science The center features six galleries, fossils, ancient stone tools, and Native American cultural items along with a planetarium, observatory and gallery of public art. (Twin Falls)

Trailside teepees at the Sacajawea Center.

Trailside teepees at the Sacajawea Center.

Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural & Educational Center See interpretive exhibits and artifacts that focus on Sacajawea and enjoy the Heritage Community Gardens, Kid’s Garden and scenic walking trails. Even your dog can enjoy itself in the Seaman’s Dog Walk and Play Area where the bronze statue of Seaman, Captain Meriwether Lewis’ Newfoundland, stands watch. (Salmon)

Idaho has its share of historical museums, too, that offer a look into the state’s pioneer past and development. See all of the Idaho’s museums at www.visitidaho.org/museums or explore more vacation ideas at www.visitidaho.org.