The Idaho State Museum Made Me Surprisingly Uncomfortable This Weekend
I have to start this by saying that the Idaho State Museum might just be the best in the entire country. If you grew up somewhere else and were forced onto an elementary or middle school field trip to learn about your state's history, you were probably bored out of your mind. For the kids growing up today, learning about Idaho history by going to the Idaho State Museum isn't dull at all. It's fun, interactive, and will hold the attention of kids and adults alike.
One of the sections that I really enjoyed was the Stories From Idaho exhibit. In this area, you can read about famous Idahoans and the amazing things that were done to improve people's lives in Idaho and around the world. It was amazing to learn about Barbara Morgan, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Cherie Buckner-Webb. There is even a place for you to add your own story about what you want to accomplish in your lifetime, which is where my visit took a disturbing turn.
As you add your own Idaho story to the exhibit, your picture and text appear for all visitors to see. My daughter, who just enjoyed touching the screen, tapped one particular story that made me immediately uncomfortable.
This person wants to see all "liberals dead" by the end of the year. While I think that this was posted to make people laugh, it was also shocking and concerning.
don't know when that particular story was posted. I called the museum to let them know about it, and they were horrified. They apologized and assured me that they go through them "often" to look for problematic posts. The museum also reached out to me via email with the following statement:
"The Idaho State Museum prioritizes maintaining a welcoming, inclusive environment for all visitors," said Liz Hobson, museum administrator. "The staff monitors the content on the Stories from Idaho display screens daily to ensure inappropriate content is removed. We encourage all visitors to share their stories and embrace diverse cultures, ideologies, and backgrounds that are the foundation of museums, and we must eliminate the use of violent, offensive, and derogatory content in our mission of making the museum inclusive for all ages."
"This incident has prompted staff to redouble our efforts and to evaluate our protocols for enhancing the museum's visitor experience. As a result, we have incorporated additional content filters to provide an extra measure to mitigate unfortunate events like this from occurring again," Hobson said.
When I asked specifically what they would be doing, they listed that the staff would be checking the exhibit once per day, that photos are cleared out once per week, and that they have added filters to catch profane or inappropriate words.
You should learn the history of Idaho, and you should definitely visit the State Museum. You should see the exhibit of Idahoans that changed the world. Most of them did it with their words because words are powerful. Use them wisely.