The Montana Historical Society Museum, also known as "Montana's 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 exhibit, and the Mackay Gallery of Charles M. Russell Art. Pre-visit and post-visit lessons 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 cost is $5.00 per person.
To schedule a tour call (406) 444-4794 or email Anthony.Schrillo@mt.gov.
Montana Homeland exhibit
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.
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. For ideas for pre or post-visit activities see the Hand's-on History Footlocker User Guide "From Traps to Caps: The Montana Fur Trade."
Mission: History (Grades 7-8) - Students assume the roles of an archaeologist, anthropologist, professor, historian and curator to see how these professions all work to uncover and preserve the past. Students gain knowledge of Montana History by revealing Montana's past from different perspectives.
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 (all ages) - 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.
Neither Empty nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark exhibit
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.
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.
Learning through Stories (grades 4-7) - This interactive tour uses indigenous peoples' stories and personal narratives to bring the exhibit alive. Teachers can download the pre- and post-tour lesson plans and preview the tour here.
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.
Pre and Post Visit Lessons: Find lesson plans and discussion questions for grades4-7 in the Storytelling Tour Lesson plan. For middle school classes, find additional resources on Chapter 3 ("from Dog Days to Horse Warriors") and Chapter 4 ("Newcomers Explore the Region") sections of the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website, including a PDFs of the relevant textbook chapters.
Mackay Gallery of Charles M. Russell Art
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.
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.
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.
Montana's Cowboy Artist: C.M. Russell (all ages) - 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.
Montana's Charlie Russell: A Visit with Nancy Cooper Russell (Grade 3 through adult) - Tour the gallery with first-person interpreter Mary Jane Bradbury as she shares Nancy Russell's perspective on Charlie's story.
Pre and Post Visit Lessons: Choose from the PowerPoints, lesson plans, and other resources created as part of the "Montana's Charlie Russell" Curriculum.
"Times of Trouble, Times of Change: Montana and the Great War" (Special exhibit, Northeast Gallery)
No formal tour exists for this special exhibit, although a scavenger hunt is available for teachers bringing their students to the exhibit.
Pre and Post Visit Lessons: Grades 5-12 lesson ideas and resources are available on the "Montana and the Great War" web site. Middle school teachers are encouraged to have their students can find additional resources on Chapter 16 of the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website, including a PDF of the textbook chapter "Montana and World War I."
Pre- and Post-Visit Lessons
Educator Nicholas Zarnowski created a guide to using before and after concept mapping to assess student learning on field trips. This strategy will work well with all of our exhibits. Additional suggestions are listed under the applicable tour or gallery.
How to Schedule a Tour of the Museum
Please contact us at least two weeks in advance. For tours planned during legislative sessions or the month of May, it is advisable to make arrangements a month in advance as these time slots fill early.
To book a tour, please call (406) 444-4794 or email Anthony.Schrillo@mt.gov. To facilitate the process please provide 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 if applicable, an invoice for your admission fee. Payment can either be made in advance or at the time of your visit.
Would You Prefer to Tour the Museum on Your Own?
Students and youth groups are welcome to tour the Society without a guide. We require that you provide one adult chaperone for every ten students, and that the chaperone remains with the students at all times while visiting the buildings.
To help ensure an enjoyable visit and avoid any potential conflicts or disappointments, we suggest that you call us at (406) 444-4794 or email Anthony.Schrillo@mt.gov to inform us of your proposed arrival dates and times, and the number of students in your group. We also recommend that teachers provide students with in-gallery assignments or activities to be make sure that they receive the most benefit from their visits.