IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — The Museum of Idaho has received a $500,000 donation that will be used to create a permanent exhibit telling the history of eastern Idaho.

The Post Register reports that Westmark Credit Union made the donation Friday at the museum in Idaho Falls.

The new exhibit, called Way Out West, will be part of an expansion taking up two floors. The exhibit will cover the prehistory of the region up to the present. It’s expected to open in late 2020.

“We’ve got a region that has some fantastic social, cultural and environmental history that has sometimes gone unappreciated even within our own state,” said museum spokesman Jeff Carr.

Westmark President and CEO Rich Leonardson presented a ceremonial check to the museum in front of a 14-foot-tall (4.27 meters) replica mammoth called Bia-Dekape, meaning “Big Meal” in the Shoshoni language.

“Giving back is important to us, and we are truly honored to be presenting long-term sponsor to Way out West,” Leonardson said.

Karen Baker, the museum’s executive director, said half of the museum’s visitors come from outside the region, many of them tourists drawn to nearby Yellowstone National Park.

“Our mission as a museum is to bring the world to Idaho and Idaho to the world. We want to be that special launching point that people can learn more about Idaho,” Baker said.

The exhibit will include information about now-extinct animals such as mammoths and giant bison. There will also be information about the Shoshone-Bannock people and European settlers.

The museum is working with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to make sure the tribes tell their story rather than having someone else tell it for them.

Officials say the exhibit will not shy from difficult topics, including the Japanese internment camp located in Jerome County during World War II.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for us to co-curate the gallery,” said museum Curator Carrie Anderson Athay.


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Museum of Idaho Receives $500,000 Donation for New Exhibit