Events

Southern Gothic plays out onscreen

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, Movie Night at the Museum will feature A Streetcar Named Desire, the film that turned a Broadway actor into a movie star. The 1951 Southern Gothic drama was adapted from a play by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tennessee Williams. Under the direction of Elia Kazan, the black and white film features Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden.

Brando, Hunter, and Malden all reprised their original Broadway roles, but Jessica Tandy, who had played Blanche DuBois on stage was replaced by Leigh to bring more star power to the film. The film moved Marlon Brando from relative obscurity to prominence as a major Hollywood film star. He received an Academy Award nomination (the first of four) for Best Actor while Leigh won her second Oscar for playing DuBois.

Doors open 6:30 pm. Admission and popcorn are free, but donations are welcomed to defray costs. Soda pop, water, beer, and wine are available for purchase. Seating is provided, but viewers can bring their own cushions or seating if they choose.

Marking its 25-year anniversary in 2024, the Northwest Montana History Museum presents a wide range of exhibits, artifacts, educational programs, and events. Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 124 Second Ave. E., Kalispell. Call 406-756-8381 or visit nwmthistory.org.

What’s it worth? Find out this fall

In October, people from the Foundation for Montana History come to visit, bringing with them their distinctive fundraiser for a day of engaging information and entertainment as experts take a look at individuals’ standout treasures and give a ballpark value.

According to the foundation, “This event allows participants to bring their fine art, collectibles, toys, heirlooms, and other interesting/valuable items to a select venue for verbal evaluation from our expert appraiser and auctioneer.”

On Saturday, Oct. 26, that “select venue” is the Northwest Montana History Museum for this year’s Montana Antiques Appraisal Fair. Foundation for Montana History board members Tim Gordon (pictured) and Grant Zahajko will serve as the consulting professionals set to come to Kalispell to check out our stuff.

Missoula-based appraiser Gordon, who has appeared on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, specializes in art, celebrity collectibles, and items of Western history. Auctioneer Zahajko leans to sports cards, comic books, and toys and collectibles. Both, however, are open to looking at any and all interesting, valuable objects.

Keep an eye out for details to come, but for now please alert us to an item or two that the foundation’s appraiser and auctioneer can consider and publicly give a value for midmorning and midafternoon of the Oct. 26 event. Contact Margaret at the museum to nominate your item.

At last year’s event in Helena, for example, one of the publicly appraised marquee items was a saddle made of silver.

The appraiser and auctioneer will do their work on the second floor of the museum, so space is limited and items must be easily loadable using the building’s north side ramp and elevator (i.e., no vintage tractors, please).

A classic cues up musical fantasy

Beautiful music. Dancing hippos, ostriches, elephants, and alligators. Waltzing flowers. Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s apprentice. All are memorable segments of the Disney classic Fantasia, which screens for Movie Night at the Museum at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 28. The 1940 production features eight animated segments set to classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski.

What began in 1938 as Walt Disney’s idea for a “Silly Symphony” cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse grew into a full-length animated feature film with Fantasound, a pioneer sound system developed by Disney and RCA that made Fantasia the first commercial film shown in stereo. For many Americans, the movie also was an introduction to classical music.

The film opened to critical acclaim but failed to make a profit, partly due to the loss of European distribution during World War II. Since 1942, the film has been reissued many times and is now ranked as the 58th greatest American film in the American Film Institute’s list of top 100 movies. It was also selected for preservation by the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

This is a rescheduled event from when technical difficulties got in the way of the previous scheduled screening.

Doors open 6:30 p.m. Admission and popcorn are free, but donations are gladly accepted to defray costs. Soda pop, water, beer, and wine are available for purchase. Seating is provided, but viewers can bring their own cushions or seating if they like.

Celebrating its 25-year anniversary in 2024, the Northwest Montana History Museum brings the past alive through exhibits, artifacts, educational programs, and events. Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 124 Second Ave. E., Kalispell. Call 406-756-8381 or visit nwmthistory.org.

Presidential visits continue

On the heels of a standing-room-only visit from President Abraham Lincoln in February (brought to us by Chuck Johnson), we have Theodore Roosevelt riding this way next week. Catch a presentation with him 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 24, followed by banter and Q&A with the audience and Flathead Valley Teddy Roosevelt buff (and former Montana secretary of state and senator) Bob Brown.

Bring a lunch (many fine downtown Kalispell restaurants nearby offer order-ahead and takeout service, such as Bonelli’s), then spend some time at the museum with a historical figure brought to life by Joe Wiegand. As Wiegand says, the program is “TR-iffic,” and we look forward to seeing you here.

Thank you to our friends at Rotary for making this event possible!

Come in and celebrate

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, April 12, all are invited to the museum to mark the 130th birthday of Kalispell’s oldest public building and also a milestone birthday of its tenant, the Northwest Montana History Museum, which turns 25 this year.

See the exhibits, hear live music, eat cake, and check out local history! Visitors will have a chance to contribute to the time capsule that will be sealed up for 25 years, and view other items also set to enter the time warp.

Look to the past and the future at the birthday bash of the century.

Some might wonder what’s the big deal with the Central School building. Carroll Van West, in his well-researched Montana’s Historic Landscapes blog, described the Central School:

Designed by William White of Great Falls, this impressive statement of town building by local residents was threatened with demolition in 1991–indeed its plight was one of the issues that awoke local citizens to the need for the National Register multiple property nomination.  Not only was this landmark preserved, its transformation into a museum met a heritage tourism need in the region, and also marks, in my mind, one of the most positive developments in historic preservation in the region in the last 30 years.”

Above: In 1915 on the steps of Central School, Kalispell businessman Ah, or Alfred, Hay gathered the baseball team he sponsored in Kalispell’s still-classic posing spot. Along with other ventures, entrepreneur Hay operated a string of restaurants and hotels along the Great Northern line from Essex, Mont., to Seattle.

Get ready to party like it’s 1894 – and 1999

It’s official! Next month (April) we honor a couple of local landmarks: Kalispell’s 130-year-old Central School and its current tenant, the Northwest Montana History Museum – a relative upstart at 25.

Look out for ways to celebrate, coming to your inbox and area bulletin boards soon.

What was Abraham Lincoln thinking? Find out Feb. 25

It’s November 18, 1863.

Tomorrow is a momentus day: The Gettysburg National Cemetery is being dedicated. Abraham Lincoln has been asked to make “a few appropriate remarks.” It’s bedtime, and his speech isn’t done. His bone-wearying day began in Washington and ended in Gettysburg.

“Abraham, you can’t afford tired, you need to finish!” he says to himself in his bedroom. He is “torn asunder” as he works on the speech. Racism, slavery, war carnage, and the deaths of two of his children tear at his soul.

The Night Before Gettysburg takes you inside the mind of Abraham Lincoln, as he asks himself, “What is slavery? Why is slavery? Why are men enslaved?” As he answers the questions, you see Lincoln the man, who he was, what he stood for, and the burdens he carried.

On Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Northwest Montana History Museum, Lincoln invites you to join him on a journey back to 1863. You’ll absorb history on your journey and learn about a man who worked hard to reunite America.

Playwright-actor Chuck Johnson of Minnesota comes to perform this unique piece of theater, which he has performed in Gettysburg, Penn., and at the recent occasion of the 160th anniversary of the address.

Please join us for this free special event! Limited seating; first come, first serve.

Doors open 3:30 p.m.; performance starts at 4 p.m.

Mel Brooks and David Lynch teamed up for a heart-wrencher

February’s feature for Movie Night at the Museum is The Elephant Man, starring Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. The film screens 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Directed by David Lynch (and executive-produced by Mel Brooks), the 1980 film is based on the life of Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man living in 19th century London. When physician Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) discovers “John” (John Hurt) in a freak show, he brings him to the hospital for an examination. He learns that there’s much more to John than his outward appearance and begins to work with and eventually teach his challenging patient.

The film also stars Hannah Gordon, Anne Bancroft and John Gielgud. It received eight Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Doors open 6:30 p.m. Admission and popcorn are free, but donations are gladly accepted to help defray the costs of Movie Night. Soda pop, water, beer and wine are available for purchase. Seating is provided, but viewers can bring their own cushions or seating if they choose.

The Northwest Montana History Museum brings the past alive through exhibits, artifacts, educational programs, and events. Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 124 Second Ave. East, Kalispell. For information call 406-756-8381.

The urban-rural divide comes to heart

The first feature in 2024 for the Northwest Montana History Museum’s Movie Night at the Museum is the 1927 silent romantic drama Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. The film screens 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23.  The movie marked the American film debut of German director F.W. Murnau and stars George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor, and Margaret Livingston.  

Livingston plays a city woman vacationing in the country who meets and falls in love with a farmer (O’Brien). Torn between his love for his wife (Gaynor) and his new love who wants him to sell his farm and move with her to the city, O’Brien finds himself agreeing  to kill his wife so they can be together. But, as in life, all does not go according to plan in this story of love, loss, and redemption.    

Murnau was the first director to use the new Fox Movietone sound-on film system, making this one of the first feature films with a synchronized musical score and sound effects soundtrack.

At the first Academy Awards in 1929, the film won an Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Picture while Gaynor received Best Actress in a Leading Role. Critics have called Sunrise the greatest film of the silent era.  

Doors open 6:50 p.m. Admission and popcorn are free, but donations are gladly accepted to defray costs. Soda pop, water, beer, and wine are available for purchase. Seating is provided, but viewers can bring their own cushions or seating if they like.

The Northwest Montana History Museum brings the past alive through exhibits, artifacts, educational programs, and events. Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 124 Second Ave. E., Kalispell. Call 406-756-8381.

Shop Small on Nov. 25 for big impact

In honor of campaigns to bolster local economies during the holiday season, the Northwest Montana History Museum welcomes book lovers and shoppers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25.

All books are discounted by 10 percent (that means 20 percent off for museum members) and many other items will be on sale. For more than two decades the bookstore and gift shop at the museum has served as a go-to for unique history- and Montana-themed titles and items.

In addition, from 10 a.m. to noon popular local author John Fraley will be on-site to sign books and catch up with his growing fan base. Fraley’s well-researched tales of early Montanans and their adventures–including his own as chronicled in his fifth, most recent book, My Wilderness Life–are always a hit with readers.

Stop by to browse, chat, and make a big impact by “shopping small” at your history museum.