The Canyon Crossroads Museum at Celebration Park will host the opening reception for its inaugural exhibit, Black Elk: Lakota Warrior, Mighty Visionary, from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.
The reception was originally scheduled for Jan. 7 but was postponed due to the weather.
The new Canyon Crossroads Museum at Celebration Park near Melba is unique, say county officials. They’re calling it a “Kunsthalle” (translated from German: “art hall”), a “noncollecting institution” that will not have a permanent collection of its own, but will show art and artifacts on loan from other institutions.
The public will get its first look inside the museum and be able to see its inaugural exhibition, “Black Elk: Lakota Warrior, Mighty Visionary,” at Saturday’s opening reception.
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The exhibition explores the life and history of Black Elk. The warrior fought in numerous battles including Wounded Knee and later became a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West traveling show. The exhibit will also feature original work from more than 10 local artists and will remain on view through April 21.
The museum has been in the works for nearly three decades.
“When I wrote the conditional use permit for Celebration Park 26 years ago, I included a museum,” said Tom Bicak, Canyon County Parks & Recreation director.
Celebration Park is Idaho’s only archaeological park. The site’s history includes a 10,000-year presence of nomadic tribes. The area also was an alternate route for the Oregon Trail. The Guffey Railroad Bridge at the park, built in 1897 to carry ore from Silver City to Nampa and sheep to Oregon woolen mills, was the region’s first bridge across the Snake River. The park was a port for the Shoshone, the first steamboat on the Snake, a travel route for the Astorians and Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders. It was the site of the town of Guffey, an overnight stage stop for Silver City teamsters.
The county got a number of grants to pay for the museum, including a federal Transportation Enhancement Fund grant and a grant from Idaho’s Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation among many others. Museum construction began around four years ago. Digging a well and building dormitories on site for student researchers and faculty is under way.
Bruce Poe, Modus Architects Collaborative, was the museum’s architect. Poe also designed Boise’s Krishna Cultural Center near Boise State University.
A desire for an easy flow within and between the museum’s interior and exterior spaces guided the design.
“Rather than define the spaces, we wanted to create spaces where people could meet inside or outside and still feel part of the overall experience,” Poe said.
The museum sits across from a bluff above the Snake River. The building echoes that bluff, “pushing up out of the earth,” Poe said. The building’s natural colors are intentional, complementing the soils and basalt rock in the area. Exposed steel, rusting into a deep orange red, also reflects the area’s palette.
The museum will host three exhibits a year. The second exhibit, opening in the spring, will feature Idaho petroglyphs and pictographs (images carved and painted in stone) and a technology known as “DStretch” used on the Mars Rover that can enhance even very faint ancient drawings.
Canyon County Parks, Cultural and Natural Resources operates Canyon Crossroads Museum and Celebration Park. Museum admission is free with a park day-use fee of $2 per vehicle. For now, visiting hours are by appointment during visitor center hours, which are daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For questions or to make an appointment, call 208-455-6022. Learn more at canyonco.org/project/crossroads-museum.
Directions to Celebration Park from Boise: Heading west on I-84 take the Meridian/Kuna exit. Turn left onto South Meridian Road. Continue onto East Avalon. Turn left onto Swan Falls Road. Turn right onto Victory Lane. Continue on to Warren Spur Road. Turn left onto Sinker Road. Turn left at the Guffey Railroad Bridge.