The Best Museums and Art Galleries in Boise, Idaho

Brendan Scully

In the foothills of the Pacific Northwest is Boise, find the cozy yet vibrant capital of Idaho. Tourists may be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of museums and galleries that showcase the unique history of the city. The following includes some of the best to visit.

Old Idaho State Penitentiary l

1. The Old Idaho State Penitentiary


The Old Idaho State Penitentiary

Opened in 1872, the Old Idaho Penitentiary was a functioning prison for over a 100 years. The “Ol Pen” housed some of the hardest criminals in the West, who were often subjected to harsh treatment. Now a museum, a walk through the complex allows visitors to see artifacts of the prison and learn about the living conditions of the the inmates and guards who lived here.

2445 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712, United States
+1 208-334-2844

Inside the Idaho Military MuseumIdaho Military Museum l © Richard Bauer/Flickr

2. Idaho Military History Museum


Waterfalls at the MK Nature Center
© DieselDemon/Flickr
This small museum is something you’ll find nowhere else in the North West. Exclusively focused on Idaho’s history and involvement in military action throughout American history, The Idaho Military History Museum lies in the grounds of the Idaho Air National Guard on Gowen Field. The museum displays firearms collections and memorabilia from the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II – including two Medals of Honor of servicemen from Idaho.

3. The Morrison Knudsen Nature Center


The Morrison Knudsen Nature Center

On the Boise River GreenBelt is the MK Nature Center. Open daily, MK has a variety of spots to explore among the water, such as a beaver dam exhibit, wetlands and underwater viewing windows. The MK Nature Center also offers educational tours year round for students and provides options for self guided tours as well.

600 S Walnut St, Boise, ID 83712, United States
+1 208-334-2225

Territorial Display 1989 by Alexis RockmanTerritorial Display 1989 by Alexis Rockman at the Boise Art Museum l © cifraser1/Flickr

4. Boise Art Museum


Falcon with trainer at the World Center for Birds of Prey
© Jim Handcock/Flickr
It might not be The Met in New York City, but the Boise Art Museum will provide art fans with a worthwhile experience during a tour of Boise. BAM typically showcases rotating photography and art instalments by artists from the Pacific Northwest. A non-profit organization, BAM also offers drawing and craft workshops to both children and adults.

5. The World Center for Birds of Prey

The World Center for Birds of Prey

Located at the end of the appropriately named West Flying Hawk Lane, The World Center for Birds of Prey is a 580 acre campus of business offices, archives and breeding centers for birds of prey. The research facilities on campus are used to repopulate and reintroduce endangered species into their natural environments. The center also houses the world’s largest flock of California Condors in captivity. Live bird presentations, nature trails and archives on falconry are just a few options a visitor has during his or her stop at this center.

5668 W Flying Hawk Ln, Boise, ID 83709, United States
+1 208-362-8687

Freak Alley GalleryFreak Alley Gallery l © cifraser1/Flickr

6. Freak Alley Gallery

Freak Alley Gallery

Off 9th Street is the Freak Alley Gallery, free and open 24/7 to the public. Local artists can submit sketches of their work and if accepted, they can have their own large mural added to the wall that stays up in the open air alley for one year. Operating since 2002, this hidden gem is an edgy favorite to locals and tourists who have either heard about it or just happen to stumble into Freak Alley.

210 N 9th St, Boise, ID 83702, United States
+1 208-703-5966

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