Museum exhibit to offer period dress and photos

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

A stroll through the dresses and suits that adorn the Bonner County History Museum is like a trip through time.

Looking at the garments that clothed Bonner County residents nearly 100 years ago tells you something about the way they lived and worked. It’s all a part of the carefully crafted exhibit opening to the general public at Bonner County History Museum this weekend. And there’s no better time to see it than this Saturday, Sept. 26, when residents can visit for free thanks to Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day event.

“I see this opening as a wonderful opportunity for those who have not been into the museum in a while, or ever, to come see what we do,” said Museum Administrator Cameron Murray. “It’s also a chance for people who saw [the 1880s exhibit], to come in and see how fashion changed in Bonner County as the world changed.”

The corner of First Avenue and Cedar Street in Sandpoint, looking south. Photo courtesy of Bonner County Historical Society.

The corner of First Avenue and Cedar Street in Sandpoint, looking south. Photo courtesy of Bonner County Historical Society.

The latest exhibit features a continuation of the museum’s “Tales From the Wardrobe” displays. A series that kicked off  with an exploration of North Idaho clothing in the late-1800s, this continuation features outfits from 1920-1939. The clothing reveals much about the personalities and the practical needs of the individuals who once worked and played in them.

For a more direct look at the Sandpoint’s transformation through the decades, check out the Then and Now exhibit. A collaboration between museum personnel and Sandpoint Reader publisher Ben Olson, Then and Now contrasts antiquated photos of iconic Bonner County locations with modern photos taken by Olson.

“We’re lucky to get to present Ben Olson’s photographs in this way,” Murray said. “You can really appreciate how much—and how little—Sandpoint has changed.”

Securing free entry to the museum from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday is easy thanks to Smithsonian Magazine. Simply visit to print out your free pass.

On that note, if you appreciate everything the museum does to preserve Bonner County’s past, consider becoming a member. Museum staff are preparing to launch a membership drive, which carries with it a host of benefits. These include free annual admission, 10 percent off gift shop purchases, priority notices and discounts to upcoming events, discounts on research and reproduction fees, free guest passes and exclusive member events.

“All of those will carry over as we work on developing our membership but we will likely also add some new perks, as well as potentially adding a more a la carte membership system in which you would have the opportunity to choose which benefits you would like to have,” Murray said.

Become a member online at, by phone at 263-2344 or by dropping by the museum in person.

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