Museum of Idaho receives almost $1 million gift for expansion

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The following is a news release from the Museum of Idaho.

IDAHO FALLS — The Museum of Idaho (MOI) has received a gift of $905,000 from the Carr Foundation to maximize the footprint of the museum’s forthcoming expansion and enhance the existing facility, despite a rise in construction costs. The Carr Foundation is also issuing a challenge to the community to contribute to the remodel of the existing space and the forthcoming permanent exhibit, The Way Out West.

Late last year, MOI officials were informed that construction costs for the expansion had risen, partially due to complications in excavating the planned basement storage facility. In response, the museum initially planned to shrink the expansion’s footprint in order to remain within its original $3.9 million budget. The plan would have cut significant square footage, mostly from the new basement and traveling exhibit space, while still preserving the vision and primary goals of the expansion, all of which were important to donors and grantors.

Then in late January, while MOI was finalizing the revised design, the Carr Foundation, which had become aware of the construction challenges, offered $905,000 to maximize the expansion. The gift was unsolicited and unexpected.

Karen Baker, the museum’s executive director, said, “This generous gift not only ensures that we can continue to bring the world to Idaho through travelling exhibits. It will allow us to better fulfill our mission to bring Idaho to the world. This gift enables us to continue to serve Eastern Idaho and be a community asset for generations to come.”

The gift will allow the museum to regain most of the traveling exhibit space it had planned to cut. The new total of 9,000 square feet, plus 2,200 square feet of existing flexible space, will allow the museum to compete for larger traveling exhibits than in the past. The new basement will remain smaller than initially planned, but the gift will aid MOI in obtaining more storage space offsite.

The gift also moves MOI closer to its related goal of remodeling the existing space in order to flow with the expansion and house The Way Out West. MOI is planning the creation of this innovative new exhibit, which will allow visitors to explore more than 10,000 years of Idaho and regional history across various themes. The exhibit will incorporate current elements such as the popular Eagle Rock, USA, exhibit with new artifacts, objects, and interactive displays. It is slated to fill the museum’s entire existing exhibit space, and to be permanent, but constantly evolving.

Baker said, “The Way Out West is our story to share with residents and visitors. It’s about an understanding of place and what makes Eastern Idaho a unique, amazing home. We are so excited to share these stories of our past and the impact Idahoans have had on the rest of the world. This new gift bolsters our ability to tell those stories. To do this well, though, will require even more of the community’s support.”

The Carr Foundation has issued a challenge to Eastern Idahoans and others to join the spirit of its gift and contribute to The Way Out West. The museum has identified several prominent naming opportunities for gifts of $50,000, $75,000, and $100,000. Prospective donors are invited to contact MOI Director of Development Nick Gailey at (208) 522-1400 or development@museumofidaho.org.

Despite the changes made during the design phase, Baker said the museum remains on track to begin construction in June and complete the expansion in mid-2019.

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