Guided Tours of Montana's Museum


Touring the Homeland Gallery

The Montana Historical Society Museum features both long-term and temporary exhibits. Currently, the education program offers a variety of docent-led, age-appropriate tours of the Montana Homeland exhibit, Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark, and the Mackay Gallery of Charles M. Russell Art. Pre-visit and post-visit lesson for some tours are also available on-line for teachers to complete with their students before and after their visits to the Museum.

Group tours of the Museum - whether docent-led or self-guided - are offered free of charge to school groups and other youth organizations. For adult groups and bus tours, the fee for docent-led tours is $2.50 per adult (the bus driver and tour coordinator are admitted free). For groups that have not scheduled a docent-led tour, the regular $5.00 per adult admission fee applies.

To schedule a tour call 406-444-4794 or email



Tour Options:

Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark: (all ages) - This exhibit will show Montana c.1805 through replica landforms, art and illustration, Indian artifacts, Native-made reproductions, taxidermy and plant specimens. It will also illustrate the rich, diverse and abundant plant and animal species found in Montana's environment at that time and will provide participatory activities throughout the exhibit that both children and adults will enjoy.

Neither Empty Nor Unknown; Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark: Ethnobotany Tour and activity (grades 6-8) - Although we think of wild game (mainly the buffalo) as the main source of Montana Indians primary sustenance, we often overlook the role played by plants. This guided tour will provide students with an understanding of how Montana's First People used their natural environment to provide for their everyday needs.

Indian Touch and Learn (Grades K-3) - Explore how the bison provided for the Indians through the use of hands-on artifacts, and compare and contrast life today with the lifeways of Montana Indians 200 years ago.

A Week in 1903 (Grades K-3) - Discover what a week in the life of Elizabeth and Robert Harris of Helena was like. A reading from 11-year-old Elizabeth Harris' diary is accompanied by hands-on artifacts. This tour is a great experience for classes studying the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Making a medicine bag

From Tenderfoot to Trapper: Mountain Men and the Fur Trade (Grades 2-3) - Rendezvous with Montana history and learn about the life of a fur trapper and how trading was done. Investigate hands-on objects and animal hides, listen to a tall tale.

Russell's Rascals (Grades 2-3) - Uncover stories about cowboys, Indians, and animals in Charlie Russell's art, as well as how paintings can express emotions and communicate sensory messages.
Family Guide to the MacKay Gallery of C.M. Russell Art. icon

Russell Round-up (Grades 4-7) - Interact with the art of Charles M. Russell, Montana's Cowboys Artist, and discover how he used his cowboy experiences as a basis for the stories in his paintings. Students learn art-analysis skills and episodes from Montana history as depicted by Russell. Includes gallery activity.
Family Guide to the Mackay Gallery of C.M. Russell Art. icon

Mission: History (Grades 7-8) - Assume the roles of an archaeologist, anthropologist, historian, and curator to uncover and preserve the past. Students gain knowledge of Montana history by assuming these occupations, thereby revealing Montana's past.

Russell's West (Grades 8-12) - Survey the art of Charles M. Russell and see how he captured the romantic myth of the West in the stories and historical events, real and mythical, he portrayed on canvas. Includes gallery activity.

Guided Research (Grades 9-12) - The Guided Research tour is a carefully crafted set of questions that provides students with an opportunity to take an in-depth look at Montana's history. This tour promotes group work, along with the idea of students "teaching" and learning from each other. It is a program that engages students, teachers, and chaperones alike.

A Journey Through Time: Montana Homeland (Adult) - An introduction to how people throughout Montana history have lived and worked in communities in our Montana Homeland exhibit. The tour is interactive and utilizes hands-on, reproduction artifacts. Visitors are also introduced to historical patterns and to how a museum works.

Student wearing buffalo robe.

Montana's Cowboy Artist: C.M. Russell (Adult) - Charles M. Russell captured the romantic myth of the West in the stories of his paintings. Visitors will see how Russell captured historical events, real and mythical, on canvas.

How To Schedule a Tour of the Museum

Please call no later than two weeks prior to the time you plan to come to Helena. For tours planned during legislative sessions or the month of May, please book more than a month in advance.

To book a tour, please call (406) 444-4794 and be prepared to help us make good arrangements for you by providing the following information:

  • Preferred Tour Date
  • Preferred Tour Times
  • Size and grade level/age of your group
  • Special needs or considerations
  • Which tours you would like

Once we have scheduled your tour, we will mail you a reservation confirmation form and an invoice for your admission fee. Payment can be made in advance or at the time of your visit. Discounted admission fees apply for the Museum.

Would You Prefer to Tour the Museum on Your Own?

Students and teachers are welcome to tour the Society without a guide. We require that you provide one adult chaperone for every five students, and that the chaperone remains with the students at all times while visiting the buildings.

As a courtesy, we ask that you please call us at (406) 444-4794 to confirm your proposed arrival dates and times. That way we can at least tell you whether a number, of other schools are already booked. Regular admission fees apply for self-guided tours of the Museum. Without a directed tour, students of all grade levels are unlikely to benefit from tours or museum experiences unless you have prepared the students with work to accomplish during their visit.