Hop on over to the yard sale at the museum

We know what some might think: The museum is selling its stuff?

Let us explain. Over the years since it opened its doors 25 years ago in the former Central School, the Northwest Montana History Museum has become the premier repository for thousands of regional artifacts. Before the museum adopted the defined process it has now — nothing enters the collection without a signed deed of gift from the donor — items sometimes came into the collection informally or were found on the doorstep (please don’t do that).

With formal processes for cataloging and storage now in place, museum staff and volunteers have discovered duplicates among the holdings (such as 14 typewriters) as well as items with no connection to Northwest Montana. Where possible, we have tracked the items to their original donors and offered them back. If the original donors cannot be found, we offer items to other, similar institutions. For example, we sent some duplicated items to museums in Deer Lodge and Livingston.

As the museum grows in its collection and membership, it does not have enough space to accommodate the number of items in storage and continue the mission. We mount frequent exhibits, such as the popular “Tales of 10 Objects” displays, as a way to show artifacts not on permanent exhibit.

Months ago we began a review of our stored collection, identifying duplicates and items outside the scope of the museum’s collection scope. Much as we love the items that have come our way, we are running out of storage and must make room to continue accepting items that help us present and preserve Northwest Montana history.

As part of the upcoming Locals Day organized with the Conrad Mansion and Hockaday Museum of Art, the Northwest Montana History Museum will hold a “yard sale” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. We follow the International Council of Museums’ protocol for deaccessioning. If items cannot be returned to their original donors or directed to more relevant, similar institutions, the next best option is for them to stay in the community from where they came.

That’s where you come in. Please spread the word that we hold this yard sale as a way to fine-tune our collection and increase our capacity for collecting items that reflect this unique place we call home. We appreciate our donors’ reverence for history and supporting us through donations to the collection as well as our members and visitors, who help us achieve our mission.

Also according to International Council of Museums’ protocol, all proceeds from the yard sale will benefit the collection.

Thank you for your understanding and support of this rare event. Feel free to call with any questions, and see you Sept. 23! Please, buy a typewriter.

Thank you to the Daily Inter Lake for publishing our first public statement on this event.

Movie Night at the Museum’s gonna rawk

What happens when a heavy metal band takes to the road? How does the trip affect the lives of the band members, their crew, and the fans? All is revealed when This Is Spinal Tap screens as the September feature for Movie Night at the Museum. The film marked the directorial debut of actor Rob Reiner, who was, at that time, known mainly for his role as Archie Bunker’s son-in-law on television’s All in the Family. The film will show 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The “mockumentary” stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer as members of Spinal Tap. The band is followed on their American tour by documentary producer Martin “Marty” DiBergi, played by Reiner. While the film was popular with the critics, it met with only modest commercial success. Over the years, however, it has developed a cult following and in 2002 it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry for basically launching the mockumentary genre. 

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 are welcome to bring their own cushions or seating.

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. For more call 406-756-8381.

Still a few spots left to put history into hands-on practice

For the second time this year, the Northwest Montana History Museum offers a bookbinding course that covers book history, bookbinding processes and tools, and hands-on learning.

Over eight sessions, students will review the history of the book and related arts, then learn how to construct at least five binding formats.

Margaret E. Davis, executive director of the museum and a longtime bookbinder who studied in China and has taught, lectured, and written about the subject, will teach the course.

No previous bookbinding experience is required, but students should have manual dexterity, ability to follow multiple steps, and interest in developing hand skills. Basic tools and materials are provided.

6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 6 to Oct. 25, 2023
Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 2nd Ave. E., Kalispell, MT 59901; 406-756-8381; nwmthistory.org

Course fee: $150, $140 for museum members; contact Margaret Davis to enroll at 406-756-8381 option 6, or email director@nwmthistory.org. Space is limited; registration with payment in advance is required.

This project is funded in part by the Montana Arts Council, an agency of the State Government, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Disinfo fighter” pays a visit Sept. 11

Kristina Graber Wilfore, a graduate of Flathead High School, appears at the museum to provide insight into her work on behalf of women, elections, and democracy around the world.

The free event is a casual conversation starting at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 11. Participants are encouraged to bring their lunch or order for pickup from a nearby restaurant and join in to listen as Wilfore describes her trajectory from Kalispell to Washington, D.C. She has worked worldwide in the areas of international development, elections, and civic advocacy.

Join us for this rare opportunity to learn firsthand about life as a “disinfo fighter” serving on the frontlines of democracy movements around the globe.

More about Wilfore:

Kristina Graber Wilfore is a seasoned international development and elections specialist who has worked in more than 30 countries for more inclusive and responsive democratic movements. She has been on the ground in hotspots such as Ukraine, Kenya, Turkey, Brazil, and Kosovo. She has worked hand-in-hand with hundreds of women on their campaigns for higher office and to help overcome barriers to political participation, designing large-scale election integrity and counter-disinformation programs in fragile environments. Wilfore co-founded the cross-national initiative #ShePersisted, and serves as the Global Democracy Advisor at Reset.Tech testing and developing methodology for multilayered counter-disinformation programs in fragile democracies. Wilfore advises governments and international agencies on how to create an enabling environment to address social media harms and national security threats presented by mis/disinformation. She is an adjunct professor with the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where she teaches a graduate course in counter-disinformation research and policy. Wilfore serves on the advisory board of Globant’s Be Kind Tech Fund startup society and is a member of the U.S. Institute of Peace Civil Society Working Group.


11:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 11, 2023

Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 2nd Ave. E., Kalispell, MT 59901; 406-756-8381; nwmthistory.org

We are off and swimming in the Great Fish Community Challenge

From now until Sept. 15 the museum joins 77 other Flathead Valley nonprofits for the fundraising campaign masterminded by the Whitefish Community Foundation.

At the $10,000 mark the museum will be eligible for a percentage match from the foundation, which bolsters the net considerably so we can keep on preserving and presenting Northwest Montana stories.

We are grateful to be part of the campaign, and hope you will help us make the most of the match and meet our goal! Last year we raised enough to enable more exhibits, events, the launch of our downtown walking tour, and so much more!

Thank you for your support. We receive every dollar given to us through the campaign. Here’s a direct link to do so, or look out for all the pop-up events around town to donate in person.

Thank you again for keeping history alive and helping make the history to come.

Kalispell’s culture core puts on a party Sept. 23

Last time Kalispell’s premier cultural institutions staged Locals Day, the occasion drew 600 people to enjoy art, history, and fun at three historic landmarks within walking distance of each other in downtown Kalispell.

Now Locals Day returns, this year running 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

The Conrad Mansion Museum, Hockaday Museum of Art, and Northwest Montana History Museum will offer discounted admission to all three institutions and special activities to mark the occasion, when we thank our supporters and expand outreach to recruit more. Our institutions could not survive without the community’s support.

Visitors who show their Montana driver’s licenses can buy a “passport” to the Conrad Mansion, Hockaday, and the Northwest Montana History Museum—all located within a nine-minute walk of one another.

The passport costs $12 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and up (kids under 12 are free).

In addition, institutions will stage special activities and offerings at their locations:

The Conrad Mansion Museum, the well-crafted home of a prominent founding family, will offer self-guided tours of the building’s three floors.

The Hockaday Museum of Art, home to Northwest Montana’s artistic legacy, will host food trucks and family activities in its parking lot and lawn. It also will be the final day of the Give Back Benefit Sale exhibition.

The Northwest Montana History Museum, the premier interpreter and presenter of regional history and artifacts, will hold a yard sale of items that either are duplicated in the collection or lack a connection to Northwest Montana. Following International Council of Museums’ protocol, the items first were offered back to original donors, when known, or to other institutions. Proceeds from the sale support the collection. The Flathead Ukulele Network plays noon to 2 p.m.

Author unveils research highlighting early Chinese of the Flathead

Back in April, Mark T. Johnson came from Helena to talk to a capacity crowd at the museum about the lives of Chinese immigrants in Montana, mostly based on his recently published The Middle Kingdom Under the Big Sky. In Kalispell he drew the largest crowd thus far of the book tour.

Now Johnson has published online further findings on Chinese cemeteries around the state and other early immigrants, including the Flathead Valley’s Mar You, a longtime restaurateur. You’s wife and first son are pictured above in an image from the Northwest Montana History Museum collection.

Visit Kalispell’s Chinese Cemetery — The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky (bigskychinese.com).

Museum preps for video play

Thanks to Discover Kalispell, the Northwest Montana History Museum along with the Hockaday Museum of Art and the Conrad Mansion Museum soon will be featured in a promotional video.

Above, Diane Medler, the director of the Kalispell chamber’s convention and visitor bureau, readies for the interview portions of the video.

The museum’s bar and backbar from the 1880s, which served its time in various fine drinking establishments from Virginia City to Demersville and Kalispell, moved to the museum in 1998. It had to be lifted through a second-story window to take its place in Hollensteiner-Stahl Hall, one of our exhibit and rental rooms, where it still serves its traditional purpose.

Medler specifically requested the handsome, historic backdrop for the video shoot, and we loved polishing it up for its star turn!

Aliens set to land for July’s Movie Night at the Museum

On July 25, extraterrestrials will land at the Northwest Montana History Museum as Movie Night at the Museum features the 1951 science fiction classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Produced by Julian Blaustein and directed by Robert Wise, the movie features Michael Rennie as Klaatu, an alien humanoid sent to Earth with an ultimatum.

As the representative of a federation of other planets, Klaatu’s mission is to warn humankind that their experiments with atomic weapons are threatening the universe. In addition to delivering his warning, Klaatu is supposed to convince all nations to cease their aggressions and live in peace. Traveling with him is the robot Gort played by Lock Martin. The film also features Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Frances Bavier and Billy Gray. In 1995, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.

The movie will screen 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 25. Doors open 6:30 p.m. and admission and popcorn are free. Soda pop, water, beer and wine are available for purchase. Seating is provided, but viewers are welcome to bring their own cushions or seating.

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.

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