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Basque Museum Debuts Four New Exhibits

Explore Basque culture, shepherding, sports and art

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After Hidden in Plain Sight: The Basques was unveiled at New York City's Ellis Island in early 2010, the exhibit spent two-and-a-half years on display at Boise's Basque Museum and Cultural Center. Now, with a recent gallery remodel, the Basque Museum is hoping to make its exhibits more dynamic.

"We actually built some walls in the main part of the gallery. We split that part into three different galleries so each one will have a separate smaller exhibit. That way we can hopefully rotate one out each year and keep it so we have something fresh more frequently," said Michael Vogt, curator of collections and exhibitions.

On First Thursday, April 4, the Basque Museum will unveil four new exhibits: An Enduring Culture: The Basques Past and Present, The Basque Sheepherder, Herri Kirolak: Basque Sports, and The Art of the Basques.

An Enduring Culture will function as more of an introductory exhibit to Basque culture.

"There's parts that we really have to tell all the time, regardless of what the other exhibits are," said Vogt. "It kind of just shows where the Basques come from; it talks about the language, the Basque country and a little bit about the immigration."

The Basque Sheepherder exhibit includes a full-size sheepherder's wagon and tent, while the Basque Sports exhibit focuses on Jaialdi sports from 2005 and 2010, including weightlifting, wood-chopping and Pala Jai Alai.

"We actually have some of the lifting stones that are on loan: a couple from Elko, a couple from Boise," said Vogt. "It's pretty neat to have people see the actual 280-pound [or] 400-pound stones that these guys would lift."

The final new exhibit, The Art of the Basques, showcases 12-15 pieces of art from the Basque Museum's rarely exhibited collection, which includes a series from artist Lance Hidy.

"There's actually some really cool sketches that we have in our collection of a poster that was done back in the '70s for the Basque boarding house restaurant that used to be right around the corner," said Vogt. "I think it's seven or eight different prints, so it's everything from his initial pencil sketch all the way through to the finished product."

Vogt said the Basque Museum's restructured gallery space will allow the museum to keep its content engaging.

"This way, we can do basically a quarter of our gallery space every year and keep things fresh so we get people coming back more frequently," he said.

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