Reasons to Call Idaho Home: Museums

Posted by Hughes Group Blog on Sunday, August 11th, 2019 at 2:41pm.

Idaho has always had a close connection with its history. A lot of people go through life in their state without really understanding what happened in the past and how that affects what is going on in the modern day, but that is not the case in Idaho. The residents of the Gem State remember what occurred in the past and are always excited to learn more about those events and their impact on the state, the country, and the rest of the world. Of course, this is not the kind of thing you are going to tell just by taking a trip down the streets of Boise and looking at its residents. It is going to look like any other city if that is all you do. The proof of Idaho’s love for history is present in the number of museums that are spread across the state. For a state with such a relatively low population and which is spread out over so much empty space, Idaho has a massive number of museums. In fact, the Treasure Valley alone (See: the Boise area) there are enough museums that you probably cannot visit them all in a single week, even if you went to one after the other and did not stop to sleep. If you are a history buff yourself, you will be right at home living in Idaho, especially since most of these museums are so often cycling in new exhibits and events. Here are a few of the unique and cool museums that can be found in Idaho.

Most history buffs probably have at least a passing interest in war history. Actually, most history buffs are probably absolutely rabid when it comes to learning about wars and battles through history and are only vaguely interested in other things. While this might be a problem in some circles, if you like to learn about the military side of the past, I recommend that you give the Warhawk Air Museum a try in Nampa. As the name suggests, this particular military museum is all about the different ages of flight and how aircraft were used in military actions across history and in different parts of the world. The big draw for the museum is getting to check out all of the full-size aircraft they have on display. You can see everything from one of the Fokker DR-1s that sparked humanity’s interest in using airplanes to shoot to the age when helicopters started to come into their own in the Vietnam War with the Bell Huey. There are a ton of different kinds of aircraft to check out at the Warhawk Air Museum and you can learn all kinds of things about them that you probably did not know. At least one of the planes they have on display is also still capable of flight.

A big part of Idaho’s history is related to the rocks and minerals that were pulled out of the ground. For some people, before Idaho was a state or even had hopes of becoming a state, the only reason they came to Idaho was to try and make a fortune finding gold or some other precious metal. Not a lot of people did make a fortune, but the Idaho mining business is still massive and different minerals are always being pulled up and put into the products Idahoans and other people use across the planet. If you want to know more about the history of Idaho’s mining operations as well as a whole lot about what the state is currently doing in that field, you should give the Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology a visit. The museum has a vast collection of the different rocks and minerals that are important to Idaho’s history and its current economy as well as a bunch of other exhibits related to the trade. There are samples of meteorites that have fallen to earth which add a whole other helping of complexity to the mining of Idaho. Because the museum has a focus on geology in general, there are also exhibits related to earthquakes that can be very interesting.

Funnily enough, right next to the Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology is a very different kind of museum, the Old Idaho Penitentiary. Both buildings are a part of the Idaho Historical Distract, though the penitentiary is an artifact of history itself rather than the museum which is full of artifacts. From the moment people started going to Idaho to make their fortune, there needed to be a place in the area that could hold people who were more interested in breaking laws than making them or following them. In 1872, that place was the Idaho Penitentiary, a prison the operated for more than 100 years and had all kinds of criminals come through it. This is probably one of the most interesting looks into the past that you can get. A lot of history is about the incredible things that happened in a place and the heroes that took part in those events. Sometimes you learn about bad guys that also took part in those events, but you almost never get a good look at what happened to those bad guys once the events were over and the more boring times set in. The Old Idaho Penitentiary stands as a monument to the mundane and the exciting. You can check out the cells were prisoners used to be kept and the way conditions changed or did not change for them as history progressed toward the modern era. You can learn about the different escape attempts (One of the most interesting and exciting things that can happen in prison, assuming you are not a guard) that almost happened or did happen and there is tons of information on who was kept in the prison and what happened to them. 

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