An extraordinary system of cultural and historical resources.


Idaho State Historical Society Exhibits

Abraham Lincoln: His Legacy in Idaho

This exhibition at the Idaho State Archives features over 200 artifacts and documents that reveal the intriguing and significant connections between the 16th president and the 43rd state.  The exhibition opens with a recreation of Lincoln’s Cabinet Room where the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.  Galleries that follow illuminate Lincoln’s life from poverty to presidency and feature collections such as Lincoln’s signed appointments of the first territorial Chief Justice and second territorial Governor; Lincoln’s remarks to Congress in 1863 and 1864 reporting on the progress made in organizing Idaho Territory; and the Order of Procession for the President’s funeral parade in Chicago on May 1, 1865, listing the Honorable William H. Wallace of Idaho Territory as a Member of Congress in attendance.

Idaho State Museum

While the museum is undergoing an extensive renovation and expansion, visit the temporary museum and Museum Store at 214 Broadway Ave., Boise, 83702.  We still offer our favorite hands-on activities including the Old West saddles, the giant Idaho potato, as well as interpretation of historic events and places from around the state.

Old Idaho Penitentiary

Prepare to be amazed as you visit one of the nation’s largest collections of historic arms and military memorabilia at the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit: Arms and Armament through the Ages, located in the Old Idaho Penitentiary.  The wide-ranging collection and dramatic settings illustrate the development of weapons throughout history.  The exhibit includes ancient Luristan bronzes, medieval arms and armor, Revolutionary War firearms and swords, Civil War artifacts, and an 1883 Gatling gun on its original carriage. Pistols, rifles, machine guns, mortars, and cannons from many of the countries involved in World Wars I and II are also featured.  The Idaho Crime, Boise Time exhibit explores the reasons for selecting Boise as its location and the use of area resources such as the Table Rock quarry.  The Marked Men exhibit is located in the former Barber Shop at the Old Pen. It explores the history, meaning, and method of prison tattooing through the centuries and around the world.  Contraband tattoo artifacts and photographs of inmates from several state and federal prisons are included in the exhibit.

Idaho State Capitol

Make your visit to Idaho’s State Capitol more meaningful by experiencing the Governing Idaho: How People and Policies Shape our State exhibit developed by the Idaho State Historical Society.  This unique and award-winning exhibit, located on the Garden Level of the Idaho Capitol tells the story of our capitol building, provides a concise and colorful history of Idaho state government, explains how it works, and inspires peoples to participate actively in their government. While on the Garden Level, visitors can also see the temporary exhibitions which are changed by the Historical Society periodically throughout the year.

Franklin Pioneer Byway and Interpretive Center

Follow the Pioneer Byway to the new Interpretive Center in Franklin, Idaho. Housed in the Lorenzo Hill Hatch and Doney Houses, the beautiful exhibits trace the regional history of south-eastern Idaho through Mormon settlement and modern agricultural development. Franklin was settled in 1862, when pioneers mistakenly thought they were forming a new Utah community. As it turned out, however, Franklin was located in Idaho, and the community grew as a Mormon settlement and center of commerce. Freight wagons, stages, and later railroads carried mining and agricultural products, and early tourists to Yellowstone National Park. Into the twentieth century, Franklin grew as an agricultural hub, producing a wide variety of food crops and developing a major mink industry.  Visit the interpretive center and picture Franklin’s rich heritage and pioneering spirit.

Rock Creek Station Interpretive Center

Visit the Stricker Home Site near Hansen, Idaho, and tour the outstanding Rock Creek Station Interpretive Center.  Completed in the fall of 2010, this state-of-the-art interpretive center tells the story of south-central Idaho from the natural history of the torrential Bonneville flood through Native American use, Oregon Trail emigration and early settlement to modern agricultural development of the area. Stricker Home Site and Rock Creek Station were visited by a cross section of characters: Oregon Trail emigrants bound for the Willamette Valley, freighters, cowboys and miners, scoundrels and hoodlums,  Indian visitors, Chinese entrepreneurs, British, Russian, Danish, Swedish, Irish settlers, and of course, women and children. Come learn their stories and take home a vision of the real American West.

Pierce Courthouse

Off the beaten path in north-central Idaho stands the state’s oldest public building, the 1862 Shoshone County Courthouse. Outside the building is a wayside exhibit and inside is a series of panels detailing the area’s pioneering history. The establishment of the Courthouse followed the first gold discovery in Idaho and the ensuing gold rush into the heart of the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. The log building symbolizes the effects of the early gold rush on the Nez Perce people and the cascading events of gold discoveries following. Visit the Courthouse, enjoy the history within its walls, and reflect on the complex stories of the legendary Pacific Northwest. 

Featured Exhibition

SOLD OUT - Paranormal Investigation
Paranormal Investigation

Jul 27th to Jul 28th