For those interested in art, history and the concept of lifelong learning, Idaho Falls offers an exceptional array of opportunities. From concerts to comedy, drama, exhibits, galleries, museums and interactive activities, this small town in the southeast corner of Idaho offers residents and visitors events and activities normally reserved for residents of large metropolitan areas.
The history of art in Idaho Falls dates back more than a century. But the modern art scene began when a small group of residents came together to form an organization dedicated to improving East Idaho’s culture and expanding access to the arts.
The Idaho Falls Arts Council was formed in 1990. Four years later, in 1994, the generous donation of three downtown buildings by a local businessman provided the basis for events and activities that are now attended by thousands of residents and visitors.
The Arts Council raised approximately $4.5 million to renovate these facilities, which now host hundreds of events annually, serve as a meeting place, and provide opportunities for children throughout eastern Idaho to experience the arts as both spectators and participants .
Willard Arts Center
The Willard Arts Center in downtown Idaho Falls hosts a variety of events including film festivals and live productions. Within the center, the Carr and Hall Gallery regularly hosts rotating art exhibitions showcasing a variety of work by notable artists.
The Willard Arts Center also hosts community events ranging from business conferences to weddings, anniversary celebrations, and birthday celebrations.
The Colonial was founded in 1919 next to the Willard Arts Center. The Colonial staged plays for 10 years, but in 1929 it was converted into a cinema. For seven decades, residents of East Idaho caught the latest movies at Colonial and, a few blocks away, Rio.
The Colonial eventually closed but was renovated and reopened after being donated to the Arts Council. Today, the 988-seat theater hosts between 16 and 18 events a year. It remains one of only four historic theaters in Idaho.
Those who have performed at this historic venue include Ray Charles, Kristina Chenoweth, Reckless Kelly, Taylor Swift, Lyle Lovett, Richard Marx and the Oak Ridge Boys.
The Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts
Residents of Idaho Falls demonstrated their commitment to the arts when they approved a bond issue to build an 1,800-seat theater in 1949. Three years later, the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts opened to the public.
Over the past 70 years, the Civic has hosted a variety of events, including rock concerts, opera, ballet and, regularly, the Idaho Falls Symphony. The list of artists who have performed at this historic venue ranges from Buck Owens to Mötley Crüe. Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, Burl Ives and many others also played in the Civic, known for its comfortable seats, incredible acoustics and great top-to-bottom views.
ARTitorium on Broadway
Located on Broadway Avenue in Idaho Falls, the ARTitorium’s roots lie in one of the community’s historic venues.
In 1924 the Broadway Theater opened its doors. It was soon renamed Fox and during the Great Depression adopted the name familiar to generations of Idaho Falls residents, the Rio.
When the Rio closed in 2001, the building sat vacant until it was donated to the Idaho Falls Arts Council to provide a fun and interactive arts experience for children.
In August 2014 the ARTitorium opened to the public. Since that time, thousands of children have enjoyed the kind of hands-on, interactive adventures that create incredible memories and allow maximum access to a wide variety of experiences.
Every day, children of all ages develop their own art at the facility’s creative stations, dance on the green screen, build something new at project tables and implement their ideas at animation stations.
And while these incredible facilities are an important part of the Idaho Falls art scene, they don’t tell the whole story.
During the summer, Idaho Falls offers regular concerts in some of its more than 50 parks and an outdoor concert venue downtown. Residents and visitors have access to a renowned art museum on the banks of the Snake River and the Museum of Idaho, a premier history and science center just blocks from the ARTitorium.
This small western town’s unique commitment to art, history and lifelong learning is and will continue to be an integral part of everyday life.
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