Arts & Culture

Tribes, Idaho political leaders join to honor opening of updated state history museum

It’s the colorful beads on this dress that helps date it

Curator of Collections Sarah Phillips points out special items in the newly opened Idaho State Museum, including a unique beaded dress made from two skins.
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Curator of Collections Sarah Phillips points out special items in the newly opened Idaho State Museum, including a unique beaded dress made from two skins.

With speeches, drum songs, the singing of “Here We have Idaho,” and the official ribbon-cutting, the Idaho State Museum is now open to the public. The museum had been closed since the summer of 2014 for a four-year, $16 million renovation.

The museum is expected to host 115,000 visitors in its first year after its reopening.

“History saved and preserved is the foundation for future generations,” said Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, one of the dedication speakers. “Today, here we have Idaho.”

All five of Idaho’s tribes were collaborators in writing and telling their history in the new exhibits. “When you talk about history, these things need to be taught so they don’t happen again,” said Nathan Small, chairman of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe.

Much of the history of the tribes is painful and hard to hear. “But this tells a little bit of who we are,” Small said.

Said Gary Aitken Jr., chairman of the Kootenai Tribe: “I was touched to tears, looking at our history and the things that are on display.”

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Gov. Butch Otter and First Lady Lori Otter, along with Lt. Gov. Brad Little, right, did the honors to open the Idaho State Museum on Friday after four years of renovation. With them are Bill Butticci, left, chair of the Idaho State Historical Society Board of Trustees; Brig. Gen. Michael Garshak, second from left, with the Idaho National Guard; and (behind Otter), Martin Petersen, president of Foundation for Idaho History. Katherine Jones kjones@idahostatesman.com

Janet Gallimore, executive director of the Idaho State Historical Society, combined the past and present. “We are making history today,” she said. And after the ribbon was cut, she turned to the crowd. “Come on in!”

See 10 top items in the new museum here.

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