History adds to the culture mix at Arts in the Park

Northwest Montana History Museum volunteer Jane Renfrow led the effort to create a booth for the museum, which debuted at the fun run for the Great Fish Community Challenge last summer.

It won rave reviews–but don’t take our word for it. Come see it (and us!) for yourselves at Arts in the Park from July 14-16. Thank you to our friends at the Hockaday Museum of Art for inviting us.

10 to 6 Friday and Saturday,
10 to 4 Sunday
Depot Park, Kalispell

Montana music cued up for those who stayed on

North Valley Music School presents Tall Tales & Tall Songs: An Evening of Songs with Bill Rossiter on Thursday, June 22. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the show goes on at 6.

Lewis and Clark wandered through Montana looking and dreaming of a Northwest Passage. Then they went home.

Homesteaders, hunters, adventurers, and gold-seekers, following a different kind of dream, wandered into the West, too. And they stayed.

Braving the wilderness with hand tools, ox-drawn wagons, and a bucket of hope, these travelers started out singing hopeful songs about the land of milk and honey. By the time they’d settled on their claims they were singing homemade and often hilarious songs about alkali water, grasshopper plagues, chickens with the pip, leaky sod huts, and sharing a bed with a chummy centipede.

Come on out and get an earful of Montana history.

Free to the public, thanks to a grant from Humanities Montana.

The team’s the thing

During World War II, many of the country’s professional baseball players were called into service, leaving the field to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

The 1992 film “A League of Their Own” tells the story of two sisters who join the league to play for the Rockford Peaches. The movie follows professional and personal lives during the 1943 baseball season as two sisters and their teammates play their way to the best record in the league and qualify for the World Series.

Directed by Penny Marshall, the movie stars Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell, Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn, Garry Marshall, and Bill Pullman. The film was both a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $132.4 million worldwide. In 2012, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission and popcorn are free, but donations are 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 Avenue East, Kalispell. Call 406-756-8381 or visit

Walk this way to know Kalispell

~ If you’re looking to reserve space on a walking tour, visit here! ~

Years in the planning, the Northwest Montana History Museum launches its long-awaited walking tour in early June. Our Downtown Kalispell Walking Tour: The Iron Horse Snorted in the Garden of Eden runs weekly at 10 a.m. Mondays and 4 p.m. Fridays through September. Private tours also are available. Visit here for much more info on the tours.

The well-researched, high-quality walking tour shows how Kalispell evolved into the cultural, economic, and transportation hub of Northwest Montana’s unique Flathead Valley. The approximate two-hour, level, and ADA-accessible tour covers about one mile and makes more than two dozen stops amid 30-plus highlighted buildings that tell the story of Kalispell’s history and people. 

Along the way walkers learn about architectural styles and modern reuse as well as prominent citizens and early settlers, how a bison herd could buy a city block, and where to spot ghost signs.

All walks begin and end at the Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 Second Ave. East, Kalispell, MT 59901.

Recommended for ages 10+

Museum admission is included with a ticket to the walking tour. The walking tour is $20 for adults; $18 for veterans, seniors, and students; $15 for kids 10 to 17 years old; and $10 for kids 4 to 9.

We look forward to walking with you!

Please visit for ticket and walk policies. Online ticket sales end a half-hour before the walk begins. Tickets also are available at the museum or by calling 406-756-8381, option 5.

A signed waiver is required to participate in the tour, provided on-site.

This program is sponsored in part by the Foundation for Montana History and researched and organized by staff and volunteers of the Northwest Montana History Museum. Proceeds benefit the Northwest Montana History Museum and its preservation and presentation of regional history.

Kathleen Frank paints the Treasure State

Painter, printmaker and woodcarver Kathleen Frank hiked Montana for weeks last summer and then holed up in her studio making paintings of what she saw.

Her colorful large-scale works depict historic sites of western Montana, from St. Mary Lake to the Bitterroot Valley. The works will hang in one of the museum’s two temporary galleries starting next month (June), following on Jeff Corwin’s landscape photography.

Frank’s introduction to Montana was about 20 years ago on a trip to a horse ranch, where she and others spent time setting up teepees, sleeping outside and hiking. She recalls sitting around the campfire in the evening listening to stories told by the Blackfeet.

Between her first trip to Montana and her more recent one, Frank has ventured widely, usually in the great outdoors. Her landscapes tend to focus on the American Southwest, where she travels multiple times throughout the year to hike and take photos of the views for her artwork.

Opening reception 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 9, 2023, free admission
Show runs through October 2023
Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 2nd Ave. E., Kalispell, MT 59901; 406-756-8381;

Movie Night founder makes a cameo appearance

“Touch of Evil,” Orson Welles’ classic 1958 film starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, and Welles himself, screens for this month’s edition of Movie Night at the Museum at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 25.

Former museum executive director Gil Jordan steps in to host movie night in Jacob Thomas’s absence this month. Jordan founded the Movie Night at the Museum series years ago.

Other than that, it’s Movie Night as usual! Free admission and popcorn, fun people, drinks for purchase, and a classic movie — all a great reason to get out of the house and get into the museum.

“Tenacious Beasts” have much to teach

That’s the gist of environmental philosopher Christopher Preston’s new book, which takes a look at resurgent wildlife populations and their effect on humans and our thinking.

Learn more at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, when Preston visits from Missoula, where he teaches at the University of Montana, for a free talk about his book and answers to questions such as “What is environmental philosophy anyway?”

See you here.

Partnership brings screenings

The Flathead Valley Celtic Festival stages its annual event this year Sept. 8 and 9, but the gatherings started much earlier, first with our co-hosted screening of “Waking Ned Devine,” and now a showing of “Belfast,” set for 7 p.m. Friday, April 14.

Come on out to the museum for the free award-winning movie and Celtic-themed raffle prizes. Refreshments, including beer and wine, will be available for sale.

Festival co-founder Rob Eberhardy (shown with daughters Katie (left) and Anna), who with his wife Shelley Eberhardy founded the festival in 2015, says the screenings “are a great way to gather the community, aid in enrichment, and, of course, have fun!”

See you here!

Chinese came to cook, clean, and lay tracks, but their stories were seldom told

Until now, that is.

Mark T. Johnson, a University of Notre Dame professor who lives in Helena, started delving into the stories of some of the Chinese who made the leap to the West when he came across untranslated archives of material at the Montana Historical Society dating from the 1880s to the 1950s.

At the time, Johnson was teaching at a school in Shanghai and had connections to many eager language learners and bilingual readers. Assembling a transnational, multigenerational team, Johnson undertook the supervision of deciphering hundreds of mostly primary documents—typically letters—for English-language audiences.

His book, The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky: A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana (University of Nebraska Press), details the difficult and sometimes rewarding life of one of our state’s largest classes of immigrants. At one point, Chinese residents accounted for more than a tenth of the state’s population.

Many Montanans know that Chinese labor was instrumental in laying tracks for the railroads on which much of frontier life depended, as well as laundries, restaurants, and other essential services.


On Monday, April 10, Johnson visits the Northwest Montana History Museum to detail his findings and process. He will illuminate the pressures Chinese Montanans felt in their new digs and from their families back home.

Navigating government bureaucracy, frequent racism, and an ever-changing political landscape, Chinese Montanans often advocated for themselves and contributed more than just labor to their communities.

Mark your calendars for a rare glimpse into the lives of many who arrived early in Montana and aided our region’s development.

Photographer dives into our past

Maritime archaeology explorer Kyren Zimmerman gives us a tour of fascinating objects at the bottom of Flathead Lake and other area waterways. He uses ROV and other technology to render images of sunken boats, rail cars, and other treasures. See for yourself at the last of the talks in our 21st annual John White Series at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.

With just a couple of dozen tickets left, which you can purchase online or at the museum from 10 to 5 weekdays, we expect this event to sell out as with other talks in the series.

See you Sunday!