CULTURE: The Idaho Historical Museum

This little museum sits in Julia Davis Park, right near the Zoo Boise and the Library!. It's a quiet, nondescript building that many of you probably haven't been to since your required fourth grade class visit. I've been there several times in my three years living in Boise, typically for work related events and meetings, but decided one blustery fall day recently to take my girls for a little afternoon out and spend some quality time exploring the exhibits the Idaho Historical Museum has to offer.

We entered the second floor via the elevator since we had the stroller and immediately came upon this display about Lewis and Clark's journey into Idaho territory as we now know it. This hand-carved canoe and larger than life sculpture of Seaman, the dog that accompanied them on their exploratory mission, was carved by Idaho chainsaw artist Dennis Sullivan. He and his wife, Frances, are known best for their incredible Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho, where you can stay in the world's largest beagle (you gotta see it to believe it). Anyhow, the casual visitor to the Museum would not know this little detail, as it is not listed anywhere on any sort of signage. But, I digress.

There is also a really nice display of various types of saddles and how they are made, including a highlight on Ray Holes Saddle Co. of Grangeville, Idaho, the oldest western saddle maker in the whole country, I believe.

Here Lucy examines the old 10cent slot machine that, if memory serves me, came out of the last legalized gambling facility in Idaho in the 1950s. You can now put your change in it as a donation. The old machine sits outside the old saloon exhibit where DejaMoo, the infamous two-headed calf resides. And, no, I'm not including any shots of that tiny, sweet thing because you really ought to pay the couple of bucks to see it yourselves if you haven't already. And you certainly ought to have the pleasure of explaining why some baby cows are born with two heads to your children.

Lucy also had a great time stacking these blocks which simulated cargo in an old ship to balance the weight correctly. Other highlights in the Museum included a display of old children's toys, some really shiny minerals, hand-beaded moccasins, a recreated medicine and herb shop from Chinatown in old Boise, and the faux red velvet wallpaper in the Victorian living room that I covet. But, I have to say, the real highlight for my girls at the Historical Museum was finding these in the gift shop:

And, of course, for 50cents a piece, they each got one.

But, for $12 a piece, they did NOT get one of these. Not because I don't want to buy these plushy two-headed calves for every child in my life and every set of parents-to-be I know, but because we are still on The Compact. Truly, the gift shop at the Idaho Historical Museum has really unique books and gifts, a very special one to be featured at a later date on this website. All in all, while the Museum is certainly kid-friendly, it's not extremely kid-fun. They do host several great educational events throughout the year that are more interesting (like the more interactive Museum Comes To Life day each year in September), but all kids under the age of 6 get free admission to the Museum. So, it doesn't cost a fortune, you can all learn a little more about our great state, and it's something unique and warm to do when the weather is cool.
Bribe your kids with a cheap old fashioned candy stick at the end and get a little holiday shopping done in their gift shop and I'd say it's a day well spent.