(IDAHO FALLS, ID) — On Monday, the 18th, the Museum of Idaho will celebrate its 10-year anniversary. For ten years the MOI has enjoyed double the patrons than other comparable-size museums in similar-size cities. The Museum enjoys triple the school kids who enjoy the exhibits annually. However, the Museum is now facing considerable growing pains financially, and is feeling the budget pinch. Only 43-percent of the MOI’s annual expenses are actually covered by ticket sales. Executive Director, David Pennock says the MOI has always been about keeping the quality of exhibits high, and the costs to the community low. Keeping the Museum accessible to everybody is an important goal. Besides ticket sales, the facility also relies on fundraising and donations to stay afloat.
Now after 10-years there are two issues that have presented themselves to Pennock and staff.
First, there is a major need to improve the bottom line and a Sustainability Endowment Fund has been established with a goal of 5-million dollars to get the Museum where it needs to be to continue to provide quality exhibits that patrons are used to and enjoy. Pennock says a little over 2-million dollars is already in the coffers to this point.
Second, there is a need to expand the facility to house exhibits that used to be staples of the former Bonneville County Historical Society. There are currently plans being drawn up to alleviate the crowding and provide the MOI with a greater traveling Exhibit Hall. A major donation to the Museum was made by the Petty family of Shelly. The Estate of Dr. Wendell and Margaret Petty has given One-Million dollars toward the expansion.
“I don’t think people understand the full impact of the MOI. People look at this Museum like they look at other cultural institutions. What they don’t understand is how much larger of an impact this museum has. Students from 20-countries and four adjacent states come specifically to Idaho Falls for a cultural event,” says Nick Gailey, Director of Development at the MOI.
On Monday the MOI will celebrate its anniversary by holding the first ever Free Admission day that will take place from 9am – 8pm. Donations will be encouraged with all proceeds that day going toward the Sustainability/Endowment Fund which will cover the MOI’s future for years to come.
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Gabe Davis, Rexburg Standard Journal
Stephan Rockefeller, EastIdahoNews.com