The following is a news release from the Museum of Idaho.
IDAHO FALLS — The Museum of Idaho’s (MOI) massive expansion will open to the public next Saturday, September 28, complete with a new traveling exhibit: Darwin & Dinosaurs.
The opening includes a brief opportunity for visitors to enjoy the entire expanded museum before major renovations begin on older exhibit spaces. A series of private events for museum members and others, including one with Gov. Brad Little, will also mark the grand opening.
The expansion includes a new two-story atrium for larger traveling exhibits, a larger and fully outfitted Maeck Family Foundation Education Center, a new museum store, storage and work areas, and a new lobby and main entrance at the intersection of Eastern Ave. and Ash St., which provides for more nearby parking. In all, the project has added more than 20,000 square feet of new space and overhauled some existing space.
Construction began in July 2018, following the successful completion of a capital campaign that raised the full $4.9 million from donors and granting organizations.
The museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and receives no state funding. It was built by and for the East Idaho community.
The first exhibit in the new space is called Darwin & Dinosaurs. It highlights how early-19th -century scientific discoveries, including the first discovery of dinosaurs, inspired Charles Darwin to seek answers about how the earth and its ecosystems have changed over time.
The exhibit includes casts of 13 dinosaurs and dozens of original artifacts from Darwin’s life, work, and era. These items include letters, scientific instruments, fossils, and a first-edition copy of On the Origin of Species, the book that made him a household name. The exhibit is also full of interactive technology, including a large, fast-paced game that helps visitors intuitively understand Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Contrary to popular belief, scientists before Darwin had already noticed that species evolve, but natural selection provided the answer as to how and why.
The exhibit is produced by Embedded Exhibitions.
Those who visit the museum on opening weekend – September 28 and 29 – will not only see Darwin & Dinosaurs and the new space, they will also be able to see the other existing exhibits, including Archimedes: Science and Innovations, and the Idaho artifacts that have filled the museum’s oldest section for many years.
After September 29, those parts of the museum – everything that isn’t brand new – will close for several months of renovation and preparation for The Way Out West, a massive new exhibit that will detail the social, cultural, and environmental history of East Idaho for years to come.
Both phases of the expansion – the now-finished addition and the forthcoming renovation – will bring the East Idaho community a greater quantity and quality of permanent exhibits, traveling exhibits, programs, and other sorts of immersive learning experiences. The expansion also bolsters the museum’s financial sustainability by allowing it to remain open even during exhibit transitions.
Bateman-Hall, an Idaho Falls construction company, has been the construction manager/general contractor for the expansion, with architectural services provided by Alderson Karst & Mitro.