Montana Historical Society

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Established in 1865, the Montana Historical Society is one of the oldest institutions of its kind west of the Mississippi River. Learn more about Montana's Museum, the Montana Historical Society Press, Montana The Magazine of Western History, the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, and the MHS Research Center.

Join in the countless programs we offer through our Outreach and Interpretation division, or shop in our unique Museum Store in person or online.


The Montana Historical Society

Created: February 2, 1865; became a state agency March 4, 1891.

Governed by: 15 member Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees who are appointed by the Governor. Trustees select the Society Director and set policy.

Statutory Mandate: " . . .an agency of state government for the use, learning, culture, and enjoyment of the citizens of the state and for the acquisition, preservation, and protection of historical records, art, archival, and museum objects, historical places, sites, and monuments and the custody, maintenance, and operation of the historical library, museums, art galleries, and historical places, sites, and monuments." 22-3-101 MCA

Roles and Responsibilities:

Preserve for future generations representative selection of all historic resources (art, records, books, photographs, oral histories, artifacts, journals, sites, buildings) important to an understanding of Montana history.

Present and provide educational and public programs, reference services, exhibits, and publications that interpret Montana's past to a broad public.

Provide technical assistance to all organizations that preserve and interpret additional historic resources that help Montanan's and her visitors understand the region's past.

Society Mission Statement

The Montana Historical Society (MHS) exists for the use of learning, culture and enjoyment of the citizens of, and visitors to, the State of Montana by:

acquiring, preserving and protecting historical records, art, archives, museum objects, historical places, sites and monuments;

maintaining a library and an historical museum, providing educational programs and services for teachers and the general public, and publishing the state historical magazine and books;

administering preservation and antiquities acts, supporting commissions with state historical orientation, and providing technical assistance to all Montana museums, historical societies, preservation programs and owners of historical resources.

Montana's Museum

The Museum collects, preserves, and interprets fine art, historical, archaeological, and ethnological artifacts that pertain to Montana and its adjoining geographic region. Besides caring for the Society's museum collections, program staff conduct research, produce exhibits - long-term exhibits, special exhibits, archived exhibits, and traveling exhibits, sponsor public programs, answer reference requests from the public, and provide technical assistance to other museums and historical societies.

If you would like to obtain a photographic reproduction of artwork or artifacts from out collection, please email . The Museum also preserves the Original Governor's Mansion as an historic house museum. The Museum's Education and Outreach Office offers guided tours, school services, conferences, workshops, classes, publications, hands-on activities, and other public events. The Museum also administers volunteer services within the Society and coordinates two major annual events - the Montana History Conference and the Western Rendezvous of Art.

The many public activities of the Museum reach a large and diverse audience throughout the state and region. In 2001, over 75,972 people visited Montana's Museum and educational outreach programs served an additional 45,906 individuals.

The Montana Historical Society's Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums, the highest honor a museum can receive.