Exhibits

Museum presents a Kalispell native’s underwater ordeal

The Northwest Montana History Museum recently received a donation of military memorabilia that includes a harrowing story from Harry Anderson, a Kalispell native and 1940 graduate of Flathead High School (he is at far right in the front row).

Anderson served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service during World War II. Assigned to the USS Perch SS-313, Ensign Anderson and crew survived a grueling, two-hour depth charge attack in the Java Sea while on patrol in April 1945. Anderson recorded the 31 depth charges dropped on the submarine in real time with tick marks on a piece of paper (shown).

That faint and fragile paper, along with Ensign Anderson’s personal account of the two-hour attack, went on display May 10 at the museum as part of the exhibit The Silent Service: A WWII Diving Denizen of the Deep.

The exhibit includes Anderson’s gold dolphins pin (awarded to officers) and his combat pin of a successful patrol, along with other medals. Numerous photos enhance the exhibit: the crew of the Perch; Perch officers on deck with one holding Duchess, the submarine’s dog; and Duchess standing on a deck gun.

Were dogs allowed on board during tours of duty? Find out more about the dogs that went on patrol with their crew at the exhibit.

In addition to Ensign Anderson’s memorabilia, other submariner items are on display: a Vietnam era U.S. Navy Submariner Torpedoman’s dress uniform, a child’s sailor uniform from the 1940s, vintage sailor hats and other related submarine items.

Details: Regular museum hours run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays from June through August

Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 Second Ave. E., Kalispell; 406-756-8381; nwmthistory.org

Lensman captured Kalispell at a pivotal time

Raymond (“Ray”) Weaver (1892-1964) returned to Kalispell from World War I in 1919 with permanent lung damage from a mustard gas attack in the trenches of France.

On returning home, Weaver picked up a camera and seemingly never put it down. From the swimmers of Woodland Park to an auto accident downtown, or shoppers bustling along Main Street, Weaver documented with a sharp eye, strong sense of composition, and a feel for everyday life in a midcentury American town.

See a dozen images from a keen observer of the Kalispell scene over decades.

Play’s the thing at the new 10 Items exhibit, opening Oct. 19

Snowshoes are a shoo-in for our next 10 Items exhibit focused on Recreation. Above, North Fork kids circa 1931 show off their favored mode of winter transport in an image from the Northwest Montana History Museum’s collection.

The 10 Items exhibits run in one of the museum’s two temporary galleries and showcase items from the collection that fit a theme. The recreation-focused exhibit follows on The Way We Wore, 10 uniforms worn by Flathead Valley residents as they went about work, school, and fun.

Find out nine other ways Flathead Valley residents enjoyed themselves when the exhibit opens 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at your history museum, 124 Second Ave. E., Kalispell. Admission is free, and refreshments provided! See you then and there.

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.

Details:
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; nwmthistory.org

Kalispell turns out for new exhibits

“Norris Road,” by Jeff Corwin

The uniforms stand at the ready in our new “10 Items” exhibit focusing on “The Way We Wore.” You’ll never see a cleaner Dairy Queen getup. Also featured: Oddfellows gear, hats for many occasions, and a meter maid outfit (including the incredibly courteous note that out -of-town visitors received despite lack of parking skill). Dozens turned out at the opening Dec. 15 to see the new offerings and share in some holiday cheer. With the area foresters partying on the second floor, it was quite a lively night.

Also downtstairs and across the hall from the uniforms, Jeff Corwin’s photography of Western landscapes, many of them Montanan, show vistas from all over, including Norris (above).

Corwin’s photography stays up through April, the uniforms through August.

However, you might as well visit soon because our decorations and bits of holiday history that appeared in every room–courtesy volunteers and a hundred schoolkids from Bigfork to Kalispell–many only be up for another week or two. Don’t miss ’em!

The holiday party runs for a month

If you missed our open house Dec. 1, never fear: The decorations stay up through December.

Volunteers led the effort to have dozens of kids from Kalispell to Bigfork decorate our museum, as explained in-depth by reporter Hilary Matheson at the Daily Inter Lake (https://dailyinterlake.com/news/2022/dec/01/local-youths-help-decorate-museum-history-mind/).

Every room received a festive, historic, and regional touch, from information about how Montana trees went to Washington, D.C., to holiday celebrations by Glacier National Park employees.

Come visit, and see for yourself. Happy Holidays!

Montana landscape photography

Exhibits focus on Montana landscape and “The Way We Wore”

“Landscapes of the American West: Photography of Jeff Corwin” Dec. 15, 2022-April 30, 2033
“10 Items: The Way We Wore” Dec. 15, 2022-August 31, 2033

Join us for an opening reception 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022, at the Northwest Montana History Museum.

On Dec. 15, museum visitors will get two exhibits for the price of none as the Northwest Montana History Museum opens new shows in its two temporary-exhibit spaces.

After 40-plus years working in commercial photography around the world, Montana photographer Jeff Corwin turned to fine art and found inspiration in landscape. Of the 17 pieces in “Landscapes of the American West,” most feature rural views of Montana, including areas near Sourdough, Dillon, Livingston and Wilsall. Two images are of Eastern Washington.

A vacation near Ennis planted the seed for Corwin’s move to east of Bozeman. Now he lives in Cardwell, where he’s building a house. Even so, Corwin says, “I go out and shoot every day.”

His work speaks to the quieter country. “I tend towards the emptiness of landscapes, not the glory of mountains and meadow and late afternoon light,” he says. “I don’t seek out that emptiness, but after so many years, just react to it.”

From a pillowlike snowfield constrained only by a fence in Bozeman, to the lush green leadup to a low butte in Rapelje, Corwin finds much to focus on and frame in his Montana journey.

“The Way We Wore” represents the latest in the “10 Items” installations for which curators take a roundabout look at the collection and present a select group to illustrate a certain theme.

Volunteers Judy Elwood and Sharon Bristow and board member Jane Renfrow will put on display a selection of uniforms connected to the Flathead Valley.

Most of us know the psychological impact of pride felt at the act of putting on a uniform, whether enlisting in military service or joining a sports team or club. The people who wore the uniforms included in the exhibit must have felt a similar thrill. They signaled the high honor of belonging.

The uniforms prepared for the exhibit range from a 1950s Boy Scout uniform and a nurse’s cape and cap to school gym clothing and a band uniform from the Kalispell Fire Department. Also included: a ceremonial coat that belonged to Judge Joseph E. Rockwood, a member of the Patriarchs Militant of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Rockwood served two terms as a judge in the 11th Judicial District, then two terms in the Montana House of Representatives. His 1920s home, on the National Register of Historic Places, stands at 835 First Ave. East.

Details:
5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022; free admission
Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 Second Ave. East, Kalispell; 406-756-8381

“Kalispell: Montana’s Eden” unveiled at last

About 3,500 people came down to the freshly laid railroad tracks in the center of Kalispell on New Year’s Day, 1892, to celebrate the completion of the Great Northern line to St. Paul. Kalispell was officially incorporated as a city a short time later, in April. The earliest occupations in Kalispell related to agriculture, flour milling, and the lumber industry. Traffic in town slowly shifted toward tourism as Kalispell became the Gateway to Glacier National Park.

The railroad brought Northwest Montana into the larger world; now, for the first time ever, the Northwest Montana History Museum tells the story of Kalispell in a permanent exhibit that brings the early town to life. “Kalispell: Montana’s Eden” details the story of this thriving city, from the railroad’s arrival up to the present day. Highlights of the display include a 20-foot-long model of Kalispell’s 1892 Great Northern railroad depot, a movie projector from the old Orpheum theatre, the first printing press of the Daily Inter Lake, THE OLDEST BALD EAGLES IN THE WORLD, and hundreds more historic artifacts!

As the largest exhibition curated in the past 12 years at the Northwest Montana History Museum, “Kalispell: Montana’s Eden” is a project more than three years in the making and the museum’s most ambitious undertaking in decades.

Everyone is invited to attend the free opening reception for “Kalispell: Montana’s Eden” from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30.  We will serve the same period-appropriate snacks that the revelers would have enjoyed in 1892. To add extra pomp and circumstance to this occasion, the fine folks at Portal Spirits Distillery have come up with historically inspired drink recipes that they will pour for guests at the reception.