Dave Walker gives a virtual tour of the J.C. White House April 24. The video can be found on the Museum of North Idaho’s Facebook page. The team at the museum is implementing new and creative ways to explore local history ever since their facilities were temporarily closed to the public since the pandemic broke out.
Image courtesy of the Museum of North Idaho

By CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | April 30, 2020 1:13 AM

Jocelyn Babcock said the move to give the Museum of North Idaho a virtual space has been challenging but adventurous.

“It’s actually been a lot of fun,” the museum’s development director admitted. “We’ve really tried to make the most of this and explore how we can bring history to life.”

Since temporarily shutting down public access out of concerns for the coronavirus pandemic, Babcock and the team at the Museum of North Idaho has been busy raising funds and awareness through virtual platforms. The unique virtual experiences, she said, have been rousing successes.

“There’s certainly been a learning curve,” she said. “We’ve got some big ideas we’re putting in motion.”

Those big ideas included a much-anticipated Milestone Lecture by Robert Singletary on April 23. Singletary was scheduled to give the lecture in March, but it was canceled.

On April 24, Dave Walker broadcasted live on Facebook from the J.C. White House, where he gave a virtual tour of the historic landmark, which was moved in November from its century-long Sherman Avenue location to its new home at the base of Tubbs Hill, where it will serve as the foundational piece for the museum’s future site.

“That went well,” Babcock said. “It was a walk-through of the house, and it gave people a chance to see the home without actually going inside.”

Future virtual events at the museum include this Friday’s trivia night Zoom game show. Anyone is welcome to join. Questions to contestants will cover knowledge of Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai County, North Idaho and the Gem State as a whole. People can join the 7 p.m. event by logging into bit.ly/2Sj9BUI.

“I’m really excited for this,” Babcock said. “That’s going to be fun. In the future, if this goes well, I’d like us to see [the museum’s trivia night] in community events. I’d like to see us take this to events around the area, like the fair.”

As Monday is a national holiday for “Star Wars” aficionados everywhere, the Museum of North Idaho is hosting a special May The 4th Be With You online event. Babcock and Courtney Beebe will host an online Zoom forum discussing how the “Star Wars” universe was molded out of historical events. “Star Wars” fans can log on to bit.ly/3aQvxNa to join the 4 p.m. forum, titled “Star Wars and Events in Earth History.”

“The inspiration for that came from a book with the same title,” Babcock explained. “George Lucas used characters and events from our history to create his world. It covers things like the role of rebels, political history, things like that. That one should be fun.”

On Tuesday, the museum will host local authors throughout the day who have documented local history. And on Wednesday, Singletary will return to answer questions live on Facebook in his Ask Me Anything segment.

Babcock said that creating content like virtual tours and online forums doesn’t only fill a void left by COVID-19 closures, but it can also document how the area endured through a challenging time in America’s history.