5 Funky Museums In Montana That Are Absolutely Worth Visiting
These are just a few of the great museums from across Montana. Our larger towns and smallest communities do a really nice job of preserving local and regional history. Dinosaurs, fur trading, Native American history, mining, railroads, and the settlement of the West are all on display.
COOKE CITY MONTANA MUSEUM: (206 Main Street, Cooke City, MT) This small museum is a quickie stop, but a must stop if you're headed into Yellowstone Park from Cooke City. You can learn about the mining history of the area and the battle for the railroad that never came to be in Cooke City. The town itself was named in honor of Northern Pacific Railway’s tycoon Jay Cooke.
Google review of the Cooke City Montana Museum: "Located just a couple of miles from the North East entrance to Yellowstone Park. Closest entrance to Lamar Valley where you find it full of Bison. Staff was very knowledgeable concerning the area including Yellowstone Park. Recommend stopping in and picking up a state map of Wyoming and Montana."
JEFFERSON VALLEY MUSEUM: (303 South Division Street, Whitehall, MT) This is a seasonal museum, open Tuesdays through Sunday. The 2023 season is May 27th through September 15th. History tours, Ghost Walks, Frontier Days Tour, and information about surrounding towns.
According to the Jefferson Valley Museum's own website: "The main building is the red barn, originally constructed in 1914 as a dairy. More than 10,000 artifacts are on display. Photos, old newspapers, and a variety of documents are available for viewing and research. The museum continues to be operated by volunteers and relies on donations, memberships and grants." Jefferson Valley Museum is also on Facebook. Groups tours are available when organized in advance.
A Google review of the Jefferson Valley Museum: "If you’re looking for a repository to get an idea of what it was like for early arrivals to the area, and to see actual clothing, furniture, farm implements and industrial apparatus from the past of Jefferson County, this is your one-stop-shop. Lots of interesting, hard to find, one-of-a-kind artifacts here."
MUSEUM OF THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS: (1205 20th Street, Fort Benton, MT) Probably easier to refer to this as the Fort Benton Museums and Heritage Complex, because you'll get more info about what they offer. Visitors rave about the caliber of offering at the museums in Fort Benton. There are several separate locations in the complex, including the historic old Fort Benton.
"At Fort Benton’s museums, you’ll explore 200 years of Western and frontier history… authentic stories of great adventure and sometimes great tragedies. See period furnishings, collections and more. Discover the time of the Blackfeet hunts on the northern plains, the passage of Lewis & Clark, the fur & robe trade from palisaded forts along the Upper Missouri, and the final attempts to settle the great plains."
NORTHWEST MONTANA HISTORY MUSEUM: (124 2nd Avenue East, Kalispell, MT) Exhibits, programs, and special events. Kalispell is a natural hub to learn about the history of the Flathead Valley. You might be lucky enough to catch a "Movie Night at the Museum" which happen regularly.
From Google reviews: "Beautiful museum with lots of awesome history & lots of learning. Such friendly staff! Takes about an hour or so to complete. Definitely stop by if your in the area." You can follow the Northwest Montana History Museum on Facebook here.
There are many more noteworthy museums across the state of Montana that are worth your time if you can visit. Some of the SMALLEST communities have surprisingly vast troves of local and state history. An honorable mention goes to:
RUDYARD DEPOT MUSEUM: This is one of the stops on the Montana Dinosaur Trail. "The Rudyard Historical Society began in April of 1994. We acquired the local railroad depot, moved it to a permanent location, and renovated it for a museum in which to house both the written and physical history of the hi-line towns of Joplin, Inverness, Rudyard, Hingham, Gildford, and Kremlin."