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The museum opened in 1973 within the historic Fort Sherman Powder Magazine on the campus of North Idaho College. This small structure proved insufficient for the museum's growing collection after a few years. In 1979, the city of Coeur d'Alene offered the museum its current building, providing a much larger space for its collections and exhibits. Visitors to the museum have the opportunity to see a number of exhibits related to the Native inhabitants of the area, as well as the region's early commercial development. For example, the museum offers a wealth of information about the logging industry and transportation via steamboats and railroads. The museum also preserves the history of community and religious institutions and important leaders in education, civic life, and commerce.

The Museum has an extensive local history library with archival material and over 30,000 images related to the history of Coeur d'Alene and surrounding communities.