- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Officials at the Museum of Idaho are hoping to dust off a 14-foot mammoth and a giant ground sloth skeleton after securing a $500,000 grant.

Museum officials are planning to use the National Endowment for the Humanities grant to finance a 20,000-square-foot expansion, which would allow them to put the mammoth and other artifacts on display again, reported The Post Register (https://bit.ly/1kh87WR ). The museum has applied for the same grant eight times before without success. Only 10 of the awards are given each year.

The giant Columbian mammoth used to be the museum’s premier attraction, but it’s been hidden from the public for eight years. The mammoth, sloth and 32,000 other objects are kept in warehouses because of the museum’s limited space.

The mammoth is “the anchor of Idaho history,” according to Director of Development Nick Gailey.

“It lived here,” he said. “It roamed up and down the Snake River. The natives 10,000 years ago harvested it, cut it up and took it into the caves out near Idaho National Laboratory.”

Museum donor Dr. Gene Petty said he regularly sneaks his grandchildren in to see the mammoth and they love it.

He says other kids deserve that chance.

“It’s why we need the expansion,” said Petty. He pointed out that the mammoth could become an iconic symbol of the museum like the African elephant centerpiece at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve got something better, something bigger,” he said. “We just don’t have the facilities to display it.”

The museum plans to house its traveling exhibits in the expansion and show local artifacts in its current building. Gailey said the expansion is projected to cost around $3 million, but will help make the museum more sustainable.

Currently, the museum must shut down for two months each year in order to change out tis displays, but the added space would allow it to operate year-round.

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Information from: Post Register, https://www.postregister.com


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