The Bird Museum is hidden away in rural North Idaho, several miles off Highway 95 at the south end of Lake Coeur d'Alene, and if you did not know it was there, you could not possibly find it by accident. This is a great shame, because the museum deserves to be very much better known. It is run by volunteers, but the exhibits are of a high standard. They are well-presented, clearly labelled and described, and organised in a logical and coherent way.
The museum is in two parts. One highlights Dr Bird's pioneering work as the inventor of the artificial respirator which bears his name, and which has saved countless lives. It also acknowledges the importance of inventors in general, with quotes from numerous American inventors ranging from Ed Lowe, the creator of kitty litter, to Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers.
The other part of the museum is a celebration of aviation, a life-long passion of Dr Bird, and includes several lovingly-restored classic aircraft as well as exhibits marking the contributions of women aviators and African-American aviators in World War 2.
The museum is free to enter, though a donation is encouraged. We were welcomed by two friendly and knowledgable docents who gave us a brief introduction to the life and work of Dr Bird which greatly enhanced our appreciation of the museum.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Sandpoint or Coeur d'Alene, and you have an interest in aviation or inventors, I strongly recommend that you take a couple of hours to visit this splendid little museum.
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