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Museum of Idaho receives long awaited grant to aid expansion project

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IDAHO FALLS — The Museum of Idaho learned this week that it is finally receiving a much-needed grant.

After applying for the gift the past nine years, The National Endowment for Humanities announced it’s giving $500,000 to the museum.

Museum of Idaho Executive Director David Pennock says the funds will go toward changing the physical appearance of the museum through a much-needed addition.

“The Museum of Idaho can’t sustain its current programs in the building we have now. The building was not built to support the programs that we do,” Pennock said.

He said the museum is closed for about 2 months a year to switch-out temporary exhibits. The new addition will eliminate these closures and enable the museum to run year round.

“It’s not good for our mission fulfillment to turn people away from a museum,” Penncok said. ” What museum does that?”

The addition will hold the traveling, or temporary exhibit, and the Idaho History exhibit will expand into the current space.

Pennock says he believes the museum didn’t receive the grant sooner because the the building was still developing. He also says it is unusual for a fairly new museum in a sparsely populated area to receive a grant from the NEH.

“The Museum of Idaho is very proud to be the recipient of one of these very prestigious challenge grants,” Pennock said. “I hope the entire community of Eastern Idaho is proud of their involvement in making this happen.”

He says the museum has seen a high number in visitors over the years and this helped secure the long awaited funding.

“The average museum in the United States of our same budget size sees around 59,000 people a year,” Pennock said. “The Museum of Idaho’s average over 13 years has been 101,000 people a year.”

The ground breaking for the addition will not be finalized until the museum reaches their grant goal of 3 million dollars. Currently donations are over halfway there.

Docent Jim Seydel says the expansion will be a great benefit to the public and they can continue to look forward to exciting features.

“We always have interesting exhibits. I don’t know the exact schedule for what the future is going to hold, but I can guarantee they’ll be interesting,” Seydel said.

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