Feed your curiosity at the museum

Originally published in ISU Voice

By Leif Tapanila

Curiosity is a marvelous thing. Asking questions about the world around us leads to new knowledge, discovery and innovation. It also builds a sense of

wonder about our surroundings. Young kids, especially, are filled with boundless curiosity. How exciting it must be to discover new things, every day, about your universe, or backyard, for the first time. Of course, you can spend a lifetime learning new things about our world, and curiosity doesn’t stop after we grow older. But sometimes the day-to-day routine and time spent in the same places can make us feel that our surroundings are familiar and without anything new to be discovered.

Here in Pocatello, the researchers and staff at the Idaho Museum of Natural History have spent the past 75 years discovering and teaching the public about the fascinating world in which we live. As its new director, I’m looking forward to finding new ways to engage our community and help the people of Idaho reconnect to their surroundings. We want to feed your curiosity.

Over the next few months, expect us to provide a broad range of programs and activities for all ages. For pre-schoolers, we offer quick, hands-on activities through Pint Sized Science Academy. Elementary students can take a walk outside to learn about tracking animals with our Museum Rangers program, and we are offering high schoolers lessons from our current exhibit on evolution. For the adult crowd, we have started a new monthly program in the evening called IMNH After Dark where we encourage conversations with guest speakers on a wide range of topics. On Nov. 11, Dr. Ted Daeschler will join us to talk about his discovery of the missing link fossil that bridges fish and amphibians, and inspired the Emmy-winning TV series “Your Inner Fish.”

If you haven’t visited our galleries in a while, you’re in for a treat. To better serve our community, we are now open six days a week, only closed on Mondays, and we bring in new exhibits on a regular basis. Our most recent exhibit is all about fishing in Idaho and features some truly gorgeous full-body sculptures of each 39 species of fish native to our state. Who knew we had so many?

Coming in March, we are bringing in a life-sized model of the largest snake in history, the 48-foot-long, 2,500-pound behemoth called Titanoboa. This fossil exhibit comes to us from the

Dr. Tapanila with buzzsaw shark fossil

Leif Tapanila with a some of the Helicoprion or ‘buzzsaw shark’ fossils at the Idaho Museum of Natural History at ISU in Pocatello.
Photo by Ray Troll

Smithsonian and will knock your socks off! We are also bringing back home our very own “Buzzsaw Sharks of Idaho” exhibit. It’s been on the road the past two years at museums from Alaska to Oregon educating more than half a million visitors about Idaho’s natural treasures.

We are lucky to live in a naturally beautiful part of the world. Idaho has a deep history of geology, biology and cultures that give context to our modern surroundings and a strong sense of pride and amazement. We invite you to feed your curiosity at our Museum.

Visit our website (www.imnh.isu.edu) for more information upcoming programs, events, and much more. The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday from noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. We are located on the Pocatello campus of Idaho State University, 698 E. Dillon St.

Leif Tapanila is the director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello.