13 Museums in Idaho that are Explore Worthy [Update 2024]


Exploring the state of Idaho’s many art galleries and museums and going on a journey through time will give you new inspiration.

Take a stroll down memory lane at the Old Idaho Penitentiary, which once housed some of the most infamous felons in the Western United States. Then there’s Warhawk Air Museum, which is a sight to behold, as it houses some unique fighter jets. Or, you might also want to visit a museum of cleanliness in Idaho, where you will be able to witness the first ever vacuum cleaner.

To learn more about such unique museums in Idaho, make sure to check out this list.

1. Boise Art Museum

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Boise Art Museum is one of the best Museums in Idaho that are Explore Worthy

The Boise Art Museum displays works of art from all periods, beginning with ancient times and continuing up to the present day. There are over four thousand different works in the permanent collection, and they range from watercolors and paintings to sculptures and textiles. Not only do the works come from Idaho and the surrounding region, but they also come from all around the world.

2. Museum of Idaho

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Objects from Idaho’s past 14,000 years are on display at the Museum of Idaho. There are about one hundred thousand annual visitors to the museum, making it the most popular history and science facility in Idaho.

In 1898, a group of women called the Village Improvement Society saw the need to create a museum dedicated to preserving the history of their state. Following its original mission, the museum now displays artifacts such as documentation from the EBR-1 Nuclear Reactor, Columbian mammoth specimens, and a “bodies inside out” exhibit, all in an effort to educate the public about Idaho’s past.

3. Idaho Potato Museum

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Located in southeastern Idaho close to Idaho Falls, the Idaho Potato Museum is a fascinating and one-of-a-kind museum. From the very first potato seed that was sown in Idaho to the Pringle’s Company that was founded in Tennessee, the center celebrates the history of the crop that has done so much to define Idaho.

The museum is housed in the historic structure that once served as the Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot, which dates back to the year 1912. The best part is that they have a café where you can indulge in potato-based treats like potato ice cream or a loaded baked potato.

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4. Oasis Bordello Museum

Oasis Bordello Museum

Historic Wallace, in the state of Idaho, is home to the Oasis Bordello Museum. The bordello operated until 1988, when its residents abruptly abandoned it, taking only the clothes on their backs and the food in the refrigerator with them.

The home was purchased in 1993, and the women’s belongings were left inside the house at the time of purchase. Now the women’s quarters in the museum’s basement are open to the public and can be toured by appointment.

5. Warhawk Air Museum

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The Warhawk Air Museum was established in 1989 by John and Sue Paul with the goal of preserving the history of military aviation. Many people had left John and his wife WWII aviation mementos throughout the years after watching him restoring the planes he had acquired from the war. For the sake of the objects they were beginning to acquire, the two decided to create a museum.

This Idaho museum now recognizes the contributions of aviators from every modern U.S. conflict. The collection also features aircraft, uniforms, pictures, and medals.

6. Idaho Military History Museum

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Idaho Military History Museum

The Idaho Military History Museum is yet another military museum, and it, too, is committed to presenting all aspects of military history. The museum puts strong emphasis on the military history of Idaho, beginning with the Spanish American War in the 1890s and going all the way up to the present day.

Moreover, the museum is pleased to accept donations and has a vast collection of artifacts that have been provided by donors. These artifacts include photographs, medals, uniforms, and weaponry. In addition, the facility houses a variety of military vehicles, including aircraft, tanks, and an ambulance.

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7. Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural, and Educational Center

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The Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural, and Educational Center is dedicated to shedding light on Sacajawea and the part she played in the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Artifacts representing the culture of her people, the Aga’idika Shoshone-Bannock, are also on display in the museum for visitors to peruse. On top of that, the Sacajawea Center offers a wide variety of attractions and activities throughout the year that are suitable for people of all ages and interests.

8. Old Idaho State Penitentiary Site

When it first opened in 1872, the Old Idaho State Penitentiary Site was home to some of the most dangerous offenders in the Western United States.

Today, visitors to the jail are allowed to wander through the solitary confinement area, as well as the cell blocks and the gallows. Built as an adjunct to the prison, there is also the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit, which is home to a collection of ancient firearms.

9. The National Oregon / California Trail Center

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The National Oregon / California Trail Site is an interpretive center that tells the narrative of the people who traveled 2,000 miles from Missouri to the Oregon Territory. The journey started in Missouri and ended in the Oregon Territory. The historic Oregon Trail passes directly through the Bear Lake Valley in southeast Idaho, which is where the center is located.

Visitors are given the opportunity to participate in an interactive simulation in which they get ready for the voyage to the west and join a wagon track, exactly like the pioneers did approximately 200 years ago.

10. Discovery Center of Idaho

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The Discovery Center of Idaho is the only museum in Idaho that offers an interactive scientific center for visitors. With more than one hundred and fifty hands-on displays centered on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the center is an engaging and entertaining alternative to the conventional museum.

The interactive museum first opened its doors in 1988 and has since been filled with exhibits that are appropriate for visitors of any age, making it a welcoming environment to discover new things.

11. Museum of Clean

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The Museum of Clean is a vibrant and one-of-a-kind institution that allows visitors of any age to learn about the evolution of cleanliness in a setting that is both narrowly and broadly focused on its subject.

Moreover, the museum delves into other ‘clean’ issues, such as clean water, clean comedy, and clean art, in addition to the kinds of things you might expect to see there, such as the world’s first vacuum cleaner.

12. Basque Museum and Cultural Center

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The Basque people are an ethnic group that may be found in southern France and northern Spain. The Basque Museum and Cultural Center presents the lives of the Basque people.

After traveling over an ocean and a continent to establish in the American West, their history and tales are on display at this site with details of the challenges they faced and the successes they achieved along the way. Oral history archives, a library, records, recordings, manuscripts, and pictures are all part of the museum’s collection.

13. Idaho State Museum

The Idaho State Museum investigates the state’s history as well as the people of Idaho’s relationship to the state’s distinctive topography. The museum is an interactive center that is entertaining for people of all ages. It is packed full of both ancient and new things that illustrate the history of the state.

Museums undoubtedly serve an essential function in invigorating and enlightening the local populace. Also, museum exhibits pique visitors’ interest in a particular field of study, time period, or idea, but their true educational value extends much beyond that. So, make an effort to check out each of the museums mentioned above.

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