Annual Manual » Annual Manual: Culture

Learning Through the Ages

Where to activate your brain


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There's a lot of talk about old dogs and the purported tricks they may or may not be able to learn, but when it comes to education, there is no such thing as an old dog.

From the arts to sports to history, physics, finance and travel, there's not only plenty to learn regardless of age, but there are plenty of ways to learn it. Boise is filled with opportunities to pack your head with knowledge and learn new skills. Here's a start on where you can train your brain at every stage in life.

Grownup Fun

Boise Art Museum

For the inner artist--or critic--BAM offers both studio explorations and art talks during First Thursday. The programs offer some insider knowledge about the museum's shows. Sunday Demonstrations on the third Sunday of the month allow visitors to get some insight into the process of creating art. Finally, Art Breaks are 30-minute guided tours of the museum exhibits held on the last Thursday afternoon of the month. $

Boise Department of Parks and Recreation

From adult softball leagues to drop-in volleyball to dance classes, the city Department of Parks and Rec has plenty of ways to get you out and moving. Check out the online program details to find the right fit for you. $-$$$

Boise Philharmonic

Boise Philharmonic is making classical music more accessible through opportunities to get to know the musicians and music. Musically Speaking offers conversations with performers and conductors one hour prior to concerts and is included with admission. Backstage with the Artist is the audiences' chance to meet Conductor Robert Franz and the week's guest artist the afternoon prior to the concert. Admission is free, but there is an extra charge for a catered lunch. Backstage programs: $

Concerts: $$$-$$$$

Boise School District Community Education

The community education program is a smorgasbord of randomness, but that means there's sure to be something to interest just about anyone. Want to get in shape? There are myriad fitness classes. Feeling crafty? Learn how to do everything from knitting to making a Basque meal. Along with classes on art, music and photography, there are metaphysical classes helping students get all kinds of centered. $$-$$$$

The Cabin

Got the next great American novel bursting to get out but a nasty case of writers' block has kept it wedged in? The Cabin offers monthly drop-in writers' workshops to give would-be authors the chance to hone their skills. Workshops are held on the first Monday of the month. $

Discovery Center of Idaho

The hands-on science museum is no longer the exclusive territory of the kiddies. Adult Nights offer the over-21 set the chance to learn more about how things work in a decidedly grown-up environment--which usually includes some sort of alcoholic beverage. $$

Ignite Boise

Ever wonder about the danger of beards or the importance of accepting your big butt or other pertinent issues? Ignite Boise has become a must-attend event. Each presenter has five minutes and 20 Power Point slides to state his or her case. $

Old Boise Music Studio

There's a saying that those who can't do, teach. Well, that's not true at the Old Boise Music Studio, where some of the best-known musicians from the area share their skills with students studying a variety of instruments, from guitar to violin to piano to voice. The roster includes Matt Bergstrom, Dan Costello, Rob Hill, Jim Lewis, Thomas Paul and Jonah Shue. Rates vary by instructor.


Ballet Idaho

Budding ballet dancers of all ages are welcome at the Ballet Idaho Academy, where all levels of dancers have opportunities to learn and develop their skills. Classes are taught by professional dancers and classes work toward performances. Check the website for a full list of class options and scholarship opportunities. $$$$$

Boise Art Museum

BAM caters to the youngest patrons with programs designed for them. On Toddler Wednesdays, the first Wednesday of the month, children ages 2-3 create their own art. On the last Saturday of the month, ages 12 and younger can join Family Art Saturdays themed activities. $

Boise Contemporary Theater

BCT's Theater Lab is designed to give aspiring actors, playwrights and storytellers the chance to develop their craft. There are options for multiple age groups and interests with classes held throughout the spring. $$$$$

Boise Parks and Recreation

From arts and theater camps to swim lessons to tennis and science, as well as sports at the community centers, Parks and Rec always has something going on for all ages. There's even ice skating and hockey through Idaho Ice World. $$-$$$$$

Boise Philharmonic

The Family Concert Series offers a chance for parents to introduce their children to classical music through some very familiar tunes. Watch the philharmonic's schedule for these annual concerts. $$-$$$

Boise Rock School

It's never too early to learn to rock. Boise Rock School works with young musicians, not only teaching them to play but forming bands that work toward putting on concerts. Rock School offers after-school programs as well as summer camps. $$$$$

Boise WaterShed

Boise WaterShed has turned wastewater treatment into an engaging educational experience with a focus on environmental stewardship. With of full lineup of classes, activities and events, kids get the chance to learn about how the ecosystem works. Check the website for a full list of classes. $

The Cabin

Got a would-be Steinbeck or Rowling in your household? The Cabin offers one-week summer writing camps during which young writers in third through 12th grades can learn the tricks of the trade. Camps conclude with a special reading of campers' work. $$$$$

Discovery Center of Idaho

Science is always more fun when it comes as hands-on activities. The Discovery Center of Idaho offers a daily science-based experience for kids and families, as well as events and classes throughout the year, including Science Saturdays and summer camps. Check the website for a full list of classes and events. $$-$$$$$

Foothills Learning Center

It's all about the natural world at the Foothills Learning Center, where kids and families can learn more about the environment with a series of classes and events offering everything from the chance to spot owls and other birds to learning about native plants. The Second Saturday program is geared toward families, while some self-guided activities offer the chance for visitors to explore on their own. $

Idaho Shakespeare Festival

Idaho Shakespeare Festival is busy grooming the next generation of actors with its continuing series of theater classes and camps. School of Theater classes are held throughout the year for a multitude of age groups while summer camps offer two-week explorations of theater and Shakespeare. ISF even offers an apprentice program for area high school students that includes intensive training and a performance showcase. $$$$-$$$$$


The Treasure Valley Institute for Children's Art is a multi-arts educational nonprofit dedicated to giving children access to a vast array of arts, from dancing and music to theater and painting. TRICA has a constantly revolving selection of classes for all ages of students, with plans to expand once the organization is able to finish work on renovating its permanent home in the old Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church. $$-$$$$$

Zoo Boise

Going to the zoo may seem educational on its own, but the crew at Zoo Boise also offers classes and events for kids of all ages, as well as entire families. Classes include a variety of activities and hands-on opportunities. The zoo even offers programs that include overnight stays. Check the website for a full list of classes and events. $$$-$$$$$


Boise State Extended Studies

If you're going to take the time to learn something new, you might as well earn some college credit for it. The Boise State Extended Studies program offers summer classes in an array of study areas, giving students the chance to earn a few credits through classes, workshops and institutes. There are even courses designed specifically for educators and some that include studying overseas for the summer. $$$$$

College of Western Idaho

For those either returning to school or continuing their education with the hopes of a better job, College of Western Idaho has become an increasingly popular option. Not only are credits largely transferable to larger universities--including Boise State--but class schedules are often more flexible than a traditional university and the cost per credit is substantially less. $$$$$


Boise Art Museum

Boise Art Museum has numerous programs for all ages, including art walks on First Thursday, demonstrations on Sunday afternoons and special presentations by artists. But seniors age 62 and older can take advantage of special presentations about one of BAM's current exhibits on the third Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m., as well as getting in for free throughout the day. $

Boise School District Community Education

The Boise School District goes beyond the K-12 format with a seasonal series of classes that are largely created by the community members who teach them. By tapping into the expertise of area residents, the program is able to offer classes as varied as personal finance and photography to physical fitness, music, crafting, cooking and travel. Enrollment isn't limited to Boise residents, but some of the most popular classes fill up fast. Class fees usually cover materials, plus a little extra for the instructor. Classes are taught in a handful of public locations across the city. $$-$$$$

Brown Bag Series

Friends of the Idaho Historical Museum keeps it current with the Brown Bag Series--one-hour talks held between noon and 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Talk subjects run the gamut from art to history to current events but each is lead by an expert from the area.

The discussions are typically held in the Idaho State Historical Museum and participants are invited to bring their lunch--hence the "brown bag" portion of the program. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for students. $

The Cabin

The local literary leader in Boise offers the public the chance to hear from some of the leading names in the literary world as part of the Readings and Conversations series. Acclaimed authors share the stories behind their work, as well as offer insights into their writing process during the events held at the Egyptian Theatre. Additional VIP receptions give fans the chance to meet the guest authors personally. $$-$$$$

Fettuccine Forum

Once a month, the Boise City Department of Arts and History offers the chance at a little community enrichment with the Fettuccine Forum lecture series. Topics range from history and urban planning to public affairs and culture, but each event is held during the popular First Thursday in downtown Boise.

Lectures are held from October through May--except in December and January. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the talk at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free but a fettuccine dinner costs $5. $

Idaho Botanical Garden

It's all about the plants at Idaho Botanical Garden--whether those plants are in your yard, in nature or at IBG. The garden hosts classes throughout the year, offering advice on caring for plants and trees, landscaping, crafting wreaths and other decor, and even occasional wildflower walks or tai chi in the garden.

While IBG members get a break on the price of classes, they are open to the public as well. $-$$$

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The urge to learn doesn't stop at the half-century mark. In fact, the 50-and-older crowd is the lucky beneficiary of the Osher Institute, a partnership between the Bernard Osher Foundation and Boise State. The institute offers lecture series and classes throughout the year covering a range of topics from history, business and ecology to politics, music and culture.

Participants must pay a nominal membership fee each term--which includes access to all lectures--but short courses and special events have an additional fee. Most classes and lectures are held at the institute's facility on Parkcenter Boulevard in Boise. Membership: $$$

Courses: $-$$$$