Museum of Idaho to nearly double in size - East Idaho News
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Museum of Idaho to nearly double in size

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The Museum of Idaho | Natalia Hepworth,

IDAHO FALLS — A local museum that once exhibited a replica of a six-ton mammoth has been experiencing some space issues.

Museum of Idaho officials said they have outgrown their current facility, which is over 30,000 square feet. Administrators have decided it is time for the space to nearly double in size with a 26,000 square foot expansion.

“For a long time the Museum of Idaho has been growing and maturing as an institution and we have filled ourselves to capacity already, and there are so many more things that we’ve wanted to do,” museum spokesman Jeff Carr says.

Carr said for the last four years or so the museum has been focusing on saving funds for the expansion. All of the work and renovations will cost nearly $4 million.

The National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal agency, gave the museum a grant for this project. The museum received a 3-to-1 challenge grant, meaning it raised $1.5 million before receiving an additional $500,000.

However, Carr says the vast majority of funds came from private foundations and donors, as well as local sponsors.

Board of Trustees Chairwoman Linda Montgomery said in a news release the expansion is an expression of the community’s support.

“This expansion will allow the museum to remain open even during the change-out of traveling exhibits, which will allow us to more effectively bring the world to Idaho and Idaho to the world,” Montgomery said.

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Architectural rendering | Courtesy Museum of Idaho

During the transition of traveling, Carr tells the museum is typically closed for three to four weeks.

“It’s a construction zone in here. Even though some of the museum remains open, people would have to walk through a construction site basically to get to the rest of it. That’s a safety issue,” Carr says.

“In the future, we’re separating our permanent exhibits from our traveling exhibits which will allow us to switch out, one or the other, while keeping the other side open.”

The building will be expanding to the north where the parking lot and museum’s education center currently stand.

“(There will be) more space for traveling exhibits, more space for local, regional exhibits, more space for education camps and classes, events, more space for artifact storage and just about everything,” Carr tells us.

The new addition will house a larger education center, a larger traveling exhibit space, and a new collections workspace.

Space in the current exhibit area will be repurposed for new and permanent exhibits to show stories of Idaho and the West.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held earlier this month. Interior renovations will begin as early as this winter.

Construction is expected to take 12 to 18 months and will begin in spring of 2018 as weather permits. The museum will remain open during these times.

Idaho Falls-based architecture firm Alderson, Karst & Mitro designed the addition, and Idaho Falls-based construction firm Bateman-Hall will serve as the construction manager/general contractor.

For more information about the expansion, or information on upcoming events go to the Museum of Idaho’s website.