Last updated: 12/10/2020
Cottonwood, Idaho
Street Address
465 Keuterville Road
Cottonwood, ID 83522
Mailing Address
465 Keuterville Rd.
Cottonwood, ID 83522
Monday - Saturday9 AM - 4:30 PM
We are closed July 4th, Thanksgiving and the day after, Christmas Eve and Day, New Year's Eve and Day. Check with us for other holiday schedules.
Adults: $6
Members: free
Students: $3
Children 6 and under: Free
Museum Type(s)
Gift Shop
Online Gift Shop
Group Tours
Carla Wilkins, Manager
phone: 208-962-2050

View special exhibits, including the stories of the Benedictine sisters, the Nez Perce people, and fascinating local characters such as Polly Bemis and Buckskin Bill. Visit a replica of the original attic museum began by Sister Alfreda Elsonsohn, celebrated Idaho historian and foundress of the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude. Join us for our annual Raspberry Festival fundraiser, October Lecture Series, and other fun and educational family events.


Our mission is to preserve the rich heritage of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, Camas Prairie, Snake River, Salmon River, and surrounding areas.


Begun in 1931 by Sister Alfreda Elsensohn, the museum is one of the oldest, continuously operating museums in the Northwest. It began with a mineral collection from the U. S. National Museum, today the Smithsonian. Located over the years in three different buildings, the museum is today housed in a modern, climate-controlled facility that protects the artifacts and welcomes visitors to views the exhibits.

Artifact Collections

Displays about the about some of the Interesting Characters of the Area including Buckskin Bill, Polly Bemis, Bill Wassmuth, Sr. Mary Paule Tacke, and Charlie Cone.

  • The History of the Benedictine Sisters and Their Impact on Idaho. The exhibit tells the story of the Idaho Benedictine Sisters, their journey from Europe to America, and their impact on the cultural development of the local area and the state.
  • The History of the Historical Museum and its Founder, Sister Alfreda Elsensohn. The exhibit includes a replica of the original St. Gertrude’s Academy attic museum that was opened in November 1931 with a mineral collection from the National History Museum in Washington, DC.
  • From the Prairie to the Rivers Gallery: This exhibit tells the stories of how the area was settled and includes exhibits on mining, the Chinese Massacre, and the Nez Perce War of 1877. Include a timeline wall; children’s space; and exhibits on agriculture, migration stories, and household life. New lighting and a video monitoring and recording system are installed.
  • Cooper's Ferry Artifact — We are currently partnering with the Bureau of Land Management - Idaho (BLM) to exhibit a Western Stemmed Point, an approximately 13,000 year-old artifact from the Cooper’s Ferry Project, an archaeological excavation site on the Salmon River, approximately 13 miles from St. Gertrude’s. This site has uncovered artifacts of human existence from 16,000 years ago — older than any other artifacts of human origin in the United States, Canada, Central or South America. We are very excited to work with the BLM for community outreach and education on this extraordinary discovery.
  • Research Collections
  • The museum houses a library and maintains an archives collection pertaining to the history of Idaho. A local genealogical library is also available.
  • Educational Programs

    Due to the pandemic, the 2020 Fall Lecture Series has been cancelled. Stay tuned for information on the 2o21 lineup!

    These events provide insights into the history of our region and are held on Thursdays during the month of October with the support of the Idaho Humanities Council. Lectures begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. A Q&A session with the presenters follows the lectures. Light refreshments are provided. The events are held in the Johanna Room at Spirit Center at the Monastery of St. Gertrude located at 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood, Idaho.


    Large museum, gift shop, restrooms, hiking trail that winds past the Stations of the Cross and a grotto.


    Idaho Corporation of Benedictine Sisters


    Access: General Public, Students, Scholars, Members

    Appointment required: Yes


    The Canticle published quarterly


    Wheelchair Accessible




    Book & Gift Shop

    Find books on the history of Idaho along with handcrafts and other items at the Book & Gift Shop. Some items also available online.

    Gift Shop

    Online Gift Shop

    Group Tours

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    Richmond, Virginia

    Riggs Ward Design (RWD) is an award-winning experience planning and design studio headquartered in historic Richmond, Virginia. Over the past 24 years, we have provided experience design, strategic master planning, interpretive planning, research, content analysis, and storyline development for museums, universities, corporations, and cultural institutions. RWD’s services also include exhibit ephemera, books, and fundraising campaign materials.

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