By September, the Museum of Idaho will be almost double the size it is today.

The first phase of the Museum of Idaho’s 21,000-square-foot expansion is reaching its final phases, Director of Public Relations Jeff Carr said, with the yearlong expansion looking to be complete by July and completely open to the public by Sept. 28.

The new space will be used for new exhibits, education rooms, basement storage, an outdoor patio and a cafe. It also will expand the museum’s entrance to the corner of Ash St. and Eastern Ave as well as add more parking for the museum.

The expansion also will add a separate building, on Water Avenue which was purchased last year, for collection and research, Carr said.

“We will have a lot of usable and flexible space,” Carr said during a media tour Friday. “We’re trying to create more space to do justice to Idaho’s history and stories.”

Carr said the expansion cost close to $5 million and will make the museum the biggest in Idaho. The museum’s current entrance will be switched to an education room and also as a connector from the original museum atrium to the expansion.

For the new entrance, museum-goers will walk through a revolving door before entering the lobby, ticketing and cafe area before taking one of two paths: one to see the new exhibit expansion and another toward the education center and old museum space.

Director of Exhibits Rod Hansen said the expansion will be necessary for the museum’s future traveling exhibit, “Darwin and Dinosaurs,” as well as to properly tell eastern Idaho’s past, present and future.

Following the opening of the exhibit, the museum is expected to close all current exhibit space to renovate and prepare for its next exhibit, “The Way Out West.” The project is expected to be open to the public by mid-2020.

“Part of the purpose of the expansion is the storage, a part of it is the need for more space for traveling exhibits,” Hansen said. “And part of it is that if we’re going to be the Museum of Idaho, we need to able tell stories stronger and better.”

Luke O’Roark is a reporter for the Post Register. He can be reached at 208-542-6763. You can also follow him on Twitter: @LukeORoark