Siamese twin piglets perfectly preserved from when they were stillborn on a local farm decades ago, a mounted golden eagle with wings outstretched, an antique cornet trumpet. These types of artifacts comprised Sister Alfreda Elsensohn’s emerging collection that she began to display in 1931 in the old St. Gertrude’s Academy attic. So began the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude. A replica of the attic has just been completed as part of a five-year exhibit remodel plan.

“We recreated Sister Alfreda’s attic museum experience as a way to creatively share the Museum’s beginnings,” explains CEO of External Ministries Mary Schmidt. “It was a mechanism for bringing together many of the artifacts that she first collected and it
provides a context for why we preserve these artifacts that at first might not appear to fit in a museum. In addition, it allows us to honor the woman who was one of our state’s first historians and a leading author on the history of our area.”

Historically, Benedictine monasteries have served as preservers and protectors of the arts, history, and culture. Mary Schmidt and the exhibit remodel team saw the need to create a more dynamic museum that expressed the Monastery values of reflection and learning. The new exhibits are meant to tell the stories behind the artifacts in such a way that people are able to truly learn from them.

A tour and presentation of the new exhibit will take place this Thursday, October 26, at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. at the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude, 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood. Presenters include Krista Green, Sister Mary Marge Goeckner, Sister Joan Smith, and former Idaho State Historian Keith Petersen. The event is free and light refreshments will be provided.

The new exhibit has been made possible through a partnership with the Idaho Humanities Council and Idaho State Historical Society. For more information: 208-962-2054 or

Learn more about the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude…