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The Montana Historical Society closes as expansion project begins

A photo of Custer Creek, part of a collection at the Montana Historical Society.
Eve Byron
Montana Historical Society
A photo of Custer Creek, part of a collection at the Montana Historical Society.

This Friday is the last day to visit the Montana Historical Society in Helena in person – for at least a couple of years. The museum collects and preserves historical artifacts and more that track the history of the state and surrounding region.

The temporary closure is part of an $84 million renovation project that will upgrade windows, elevators and add space for more exhibits. The new 66,000-square-foot Homeland Gallery will “take up the bulk of the addition,” said Eve Byron, a spokesperson for the museum.

“In our facility here, we're going to be able to double the size of our Charlie Russell Gallery,” Byron said. “We're adding two classrooms because we get a lot of students who come here and programs for them will have another gallery that can be split into three galleries.”

Right now staff is busy packing and storing items and moving offices to a temporary location. During the closure the public can still view many exhibits online, including 40,000 artifacts, nine exhibits, 1 million pages of newspapers, 100,000 books, letters, lessons, plans, photographs and more.

The museum gift store will still be open for in-person shopping.
The Historical Society’s planned programs continue at the Lewis and Clark County Library.

The project is paid for with $41 million from the state’s lodging facility use tax, a $7 million-bond from 2005 and private donations and grants.

The expected completion date for the expansion is early 2025.

Orlinda Worthington hosts “Morning Edition” weekdays on YPR. She brings 20 years of experience as Montana television news anchor, producer, and reporter.