Timothy Luke’s Museum Politics brought back a lot of memories for me from my time in the political arena of Idaho. As a history teacher elected to three terms in the Idaho House of Representatives, I was afforded both the historical and political perspectives. As Luke described in his book, any school, agency or museum that received any taxpayer dollars was subject to the scrutiny of the political leaders. If a museum was found to have a display that could be seen as offensive to any one group in Idaho and that museum was receiving state funding, you can be rest assured that a legislator would get involved. All it would take was one call, email or letter from a constituent complaining about an offensive display at BSU or the Idaho Historical Society or any other museum in Idaho and that constituents legislator would be on the phone to the director of that museum asking for the display to be removed.
I was also heavily involved in the Idaho Historical Society’s attempt to strengthen the process for identifying historical landmarks and/or buildings. The proposed law would have allowed the Historical Society a chance to review any plans for the demolition of any city, county or state owned buildings to see if there was any possible historical value. Although this seems somewhat innocuous, I found out from my fellow legislators that it was NOT! They were sure this would give the Historical Society enormous amounts of power that they would use to eventually take over Idaho and the rest of the world. I had to pull the bill back to committee or face a public flogging of some sort! Thanks Timothy for the stroll down memory lane!!