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The History Museum aims for grant funding to help preserve archives and artifacts

The History Museum in Great Falls, Montana
The History Museum at 422 Second Street South
Posted at 5:43 PM, Dec 06, 2022

GREAT FALLS — History preserved. - that’s the goal. The History Museum in Great Falls has applied for a $340,000 grant proposal through the State of Montana.

The money will be divvied up and approved during the upcoming legislative session. A biennium system, through the Department of Commerce, under the Montana Historic Preservation Grant. An allotment of $8 million to entities around the state. The opportunity to keep a million of those dollars in the town of Great Falls including submissions from Paris Gibson Square Art Museum and the Rocky Mountain Building.

“The History Museum is the premiere research facility in north central Montana,” said Kristi Scott, director of The History Museum, located at 422 Second Street South.

The History Museum in Great Falls, Montana
David Sherman

Renovations to the archives of the museum are crucial to preserving an overflowing surplus of artifacts.

“These precious artifacts are deserving of appropriate storage, furniture, and moderated temperature control. Otherwise, things like this bucket from the Great Falls Fire Department from back in the 1890s is going to crack and fall apart.”

The three-story building is home to 40,000 artifacts, some of those untouched and sitting in a cold storage room. A cold storage room is better than most options, but isn’t ideal, as some of the most precious items are dated paper. Scott says that paper becomes brittle when sitting in the cold.

The History Museum in Great Falls

If the museum is allotted the requested grant money, they will reach two thirds of the fundraising goal for the entire project, which sums up to about $800,000. Within the project they plan to add new insulation and HVAC equipment to ensure proper temperatures through the harsh months. Along with adding more storage and shelving to organize the surplus. Don’t forget a major addition, to build a “visible vault” that the public can stroll the halls of the museum and see curators documenting, cleaning, and restoring artifacts. The list goes on, but for Scott, she says the museum has a modest renovation approach, but not asking for substantial amounts.

“These precious artifacts are deserving of appropriate storage, furniture, and moderated temperature control. Otherwise, things like this bucket from the Great Falls Fire Department from back in the 1890s is going to crack and fall apart.”

Within the surplus, Scott gave MTN and exclusive look into the archives, pieces that have never been seen by the public, pulling Great Falls Tribune research files that were in the third-floor storage space. Files that contain vital pieces to the area’s history. One of the artifacts was a souvenir program from the Jack Dempsey fight that was held in Shelby.

“This is a perfect example of how we're bursting at the seams. So, when the Tribune reporter researcher files were offered to us, we didn't have room in our protected archives. But when our renovations are finished, these files will move out of cold storage and downstairs.”

It isn’t all about The History Museum in the end, it’s about preserving the past.

“Getting these million dollars towards our projects would be a huge shot in the arm, would be good for our museums, good for our historic buildings, and also good for commerce locally, because you're going to be employing local contractors, whether it's architecture firms, drywall players, HVAC technicians. It goes on and on and on. There's going to be a great ripple effect in the community.”

A community of history, preserving its past for the common good.


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