An incredible transformation has happened at the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude in the last five years. Decades of vision and leadership created a rich collection of artifacts. In 2015, a team comprised of volunteers and Museum staff began organizing those artifacts into exhibits that tell the compelling stories of our community and our region.
A Completion Celebration will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, October 8, at Spirit Center. This event will include a program that recognizes the culmination of the five-year Historical Museum exhibit remodel project, the sisters’ historical journey to the Camas Prairie, and their 100-year anniversary of laying the cornerstone for the Monastery. An open house and reception will follow at the Historical Museum.
A Timeline of the Five-Year Historical Museum Remodel Project
Spring 2014 — The Historical Museum’s gift shop and the Monastery’s gift shop are combined and the facility becomes the Monastery’s Welcome Center, Gift shop, and Historical Museum.
Fall 2014 — Outside experts conduct a Museum exhibit evaluation.
Spring 2015 — The Historical Museum adopts a five–year exhibit remodel plan that includes selected gallery themes. The overall strategy is to exhibit the artifacts with interpretive stories that will share our area’s history to facilitate true reflective learning.
Fall 2015 — A Museum remodel team begins meeting to provide an overall building exhibit design layout for the project. Outside fundraising for the project begins.
Winter 2015 to Spring 2016 — The first exhibit is completed: The History of the Benedictine Sisters and Their Impact on Idaho. The exhibit tells the story of the Idaho Benedictine Sisters, their journey from Europe to America, and their impact on the cultural development of the local area and the state.
Winter 2016 to Spring 2017 — The second exhibit is completed: The History of the Historical Museum and its Founder, Sister Alfreda Elsensohn. The exhibit includes a replica of the original St. Gertrude’s Academy attic museum that was opened in November 1931 with a mineral collection from the National History Museum in Washington, DC.
Winter 2017 to Spring 2018 — Fascinating Lives: tells the stories of 20 of our area’s most interesting characters including Polly Bemis, Buckskin Bill, and Winifred Rhoades Emmanuel
Spotlight Gallery: a space to temporarily display and tell the story of specific collections and take advantage of future traveling exhibits, such as the Smithsonian traveling exhibits
Treasures Gallery: allows us to display unique artifacts that are not part of any of our major galleries, but are rare gems in our collection
Winter 2018 to Spring 2019 — From the Prairie to the Rivers Gallery, Part 1: This exhibit tells the stories of how the area was settled and includes exhibits on mining, the Chinese Massacre, and the Nez Perce War of 1877.
Winter 2019 to October 2020 — From the Prairie to the Rivers Gallery Part 2: This phase will include a timeline wall; children’s space; and exhibits on agriculture, migration stories, and household life. New lighting and a video monitoring and recording system are installed.
Cooper’s Ferry Exhibit
We are currently partnering with the Bureau of Land Management - Idaho (BLM) to develop an exhibit on the Cooper’s Ferry Archeological project. This exhibit is planned for completion by October 8 and will include loaned artifacts from this important archeological excavation site on the Salmon River, approximately 13 miles from St. Gertrude’s. This site has uncovered artifacts of human existence from 16,000 years ago — older than any other artifacts of human origin in the United States, Canada, Central or South America. We are very excited to work with the BLM for community outreach and education on this extraordinary discovery.