IDAHO FALLS — If you’ve ever wanted an entire museum all to yourself, now is your chance.
The Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls is currently offering “Me Time @ the Museum,” a chance for a group of up to ten people to explore the exhibits and artifacts safely and without being crowded.
“MeTime @ the Museum” was conceived as a way for people to continue to enjoy the museum while keeping in compliance with current COVID-19 mandates, which restrict the size of group gatherings to no more than ten people. It also helps the museum continue its mission to bring the world to Idaho and Idaho to the world, even while it’s closed to normal operation during these difficult times.
“People can’t just come to the museum and walk in whenever they want now because we couldn’t keep the numbers down and we wouldn’t want to keep people waiting in the lobby or in the parking lot forever,” museum spokesperson Jeff Carr told EastIdahoNews.com. “So we are open now by appointment, which basically means anybody can sign up for an hour time slot, then when you come in, you get the whole place to yourself.”
Carr said the museum’s staff arrived at the idea for “Me Time” after several days of brainstorming. They were also inspired by actions other museums have taken.
“We had heard of one other museum in Oklahoma that does this sort of thing,” he said. “We’ve been trying to keep tabs on what other museums are up to, what other ideas are out there. And we thought ‘Hey, maybe this is the perfect time to try something like that.”
“We’re trying to take a bad situation, turn it around and give people an experience they wouldn’t get otherwise,” Carr added. “Maybe some people have always dreamed of having a museum to themselves.”
“Me Time” isn’t the only program the Museum of Idaho is running to help educate and entertain during the pandemic. The museum is continuing its “Museum @ Home” program which provides fun learning opportunities that kids can either do virtually or have sent to their homes.
The museum has also modified its “Museum Club” lecture series, now staging those events as Zoom meetings. “Museum Club” gives life-long learners the chance to hear from experts in many different fields.
“Once a month, we have prominent figures, usually with ties to Idaho talk to us,” Carr said. “We had Rachel Martin of NPR a couple of months ago. We’ve got an epidemiologist next week. We’ve got a former NASA astronaut in the new year.” “
“We normally go with people we can find around eastern Idaho, which, fortunately, there’s a ton of fantastic people to talk to around eastern Idaho and we’ve never come close to running out,” he continued. “But doing it on Zoom opens up the rest of the world to us also and allows us to get people who are living all over the place to come talk with us.”
While the Museum of Idaho staff works to carry out its mission during COVID-19, they are also excited for events that are coming up in the near future. The current traveling exhibit, “Darwin and Dinosaurs,” will be staying through January 2.
Then on January 23, “Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out” makes its long-awaited debut at the museum. The same day, the museum’s “Way Out West” Idaho exhibit will also open, capping four years of hard work.
“Starting on January 23, the museum basically becomes twice the size that it’s been before,” Carr said. “I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised when they see ‘Way Out West’ and when they see what the museum looks like now,” Carr said. “It’s just a night-and-day difference from what it looked like in the past and I honestly think it’s going to exceed people’s expectations.”