aerial.view.600wAbout the Bonner County History Museum

Founded in 1972, the Bonner County History Museum has been collecting and preserving the Bonner County region’s significant stories for over 40 years.

The Museum is located in view of Lake Pend Oreille in beautiful Lakeview Park. The park has many amenities including picnic areas, a playground, tennis courts, and the Native Plant Society arboretum. Adjacent to Lakeview Park is Memorial Field which has a boat launch and is home to the Festival at Sandpoint every August.

The Bonner County History Museum is a private, non-profit educational organization (I.R.S. 501 (c) 3). The museum is a membership organization, open to all.  We operate thanks to community support, membership fees, gifts, retail sales and donations, and grants from private foundations. More About Us

History in Print

Two new books are now on sale in our gift shop along with many other items that highlight Bonner County. driving.past.250w

Ask for A GLORIOUS FIELD FOR SAWMILLS and DRIVING PAST at the Bonner County Museum gift shop, Vanderford’s Books, Common Knowledge Bookstore, the Corner Bookstore, and other retailers in and around Bonner County, or call (208) 263-2344 to order a copy.

Current Exhibits

TALES FROM THE WARDROBE: A Look at Fashion in Bonner County

Clothing ranks with food and shelter as a basic human requirement for survival, yet it is so much more. What we choose to wear is a cultural expression, a mark of celebration or mourning, a signifier of gender, class, occupation,   income, and age. Styles evolve from season to season, reflecting wider changes in technology, taste, social values, and even world events.

Displaying items pulled directly from the Museum’s collection, as well as photographs, prints, vintage advertisements, and other ephemera, this first part of a series of exhibits entitled From the Wardrobe features garments, shoes, accessories, and jewelry worn by Bonner County residents from the 1880s through the 1950s.

ERA III: 1940-1959

The beginning of World War II in 1941 had a strong impact on Bonner County, as well as the rest of the world. With the opening of Farragut Naval Training Station on the south end of the lake, thousands of sailors descended on Sandpoint. The war had an unmistakable effect on what people wore. Certain fabrics, shoe leather, rubber, and other raw materials were restricted by rationing, as were many beauty and grooming products. Nonetheless, putting effort into one’s appearance was considered a patriotic duty, lifting the morale of the troops and sending enemies a clear message that the American people were healthy, strong, and confident.  Bonner County women dressed to impress sailors and lift their morale, and many of our men donned uniforms themselves. Even civilian clothes were influenced by the ever-present uniforms, with men’s suit cuts having a military flair and women’s dress taking on detail inspired by uniforms. Women’s dresses also became much simpler during the war, with sleeker silhouettes, less fabric and fewer adornments.

In the later part of the decade, as the war ended and restrictions lifted, Americans were ready to indulge.  Wardrobe options expanded, new silhouettes emerged and a full array of accessories finished the look off from head to toe. Fashion and design was being influenced by the new wave of technology in the Atomic Age. Celebrities and the media were creating an idealistic picture of how the American family should look and a new consumer, the teen, was emerging, inspiring new trends within teenage culture.  The flourishing Post war years were full of indulgences and creativity and this was reflected in the fashions of the time. Of course, Sandpoint still hasn’t forgotten the fashions of the 1950s, as we celebrate with poodle skirts, leather jackets and all the styles of the era each year with one of Bonner County’s most treasured events, Lost in the 50s.

This exhibit will close on September 16, come see it before its gone!

ERA III images 005ERA III images 003

Also currently on Exhibit:

The Strange and Curious: Museums Collect the Most Peculiar Things

The Bonner County History Museum is home to over 100,000 objects, artworks, books and artifacts, and that number is growing all the time.  It is a true Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities).  As our staff and volunteers work on various projects, we encounter all sorts of things in our “cabinet”.  Some might think of us as pack rats.  However, as any good pack rat knows: Everything is fair game to consider keeping.

Our eclectic collections are a case in point.  Chinese slippers, bizarre taxidermy, dinosaur bones, typewriters, logging boots, old advertisements, political propaganda — not even sewing notions are too lowly to be saved. What’s more, the museum does nothing halfheartedly. Who wants one example of an artifact when you can have 50? Or 500?

In this exhibit, we have gathered a few of our favorite examples of some of the more outlandish items in our collection.   But strange or not, we are proud to be preserving the local history of Bonner County.


The Art of Selma Calhoun Barker

Bonner County has been inspiration and home to many artists over the years, both well-known and forgotten. Selma Calhoun Barker, who lived much of her life in Clark Fork, was one of them. Barker grew up in the West and was always intrigued by art and its power. After her marriage in 1915 she was able to begin experimenting with her own art, and while rocky in the beginning, her work with George Eugene Schroeder soon transformed her into one of the foremost Western artists of the time.

In our look at Mrs. Barker’s art and style, we present a number of her works, both finished and unfinished, as well as some of the tools she used to create them.  Her art often focused on life in Bonner County, both in the romantic past and in the present. We hope you enjoy this look at one of our greatest local artists.


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