Exhibits & Outreach » Current Exhibits

KULR-8 News: Celebrating 60 Years

February 20 – May 26, 2018

On March 15, 2018, KULR-8 television celebrates 60 years of programming. Starting as KGHL-TV in 1958, the station’s call letters switched to KULR-TV in 1963. KULR-8 joined KOOK-TV (now KTVQ) to offer a two-station market in Billings during the 1960s and 1970s. Explore the changing world of television from those working at the station.

Bison: The Past, Present & Future

February 20 - April 7, 2018

Ancient. Massive. Wild.

The bison is a North American species whose story stretches from Plains Indian hunters to entrepreneurial industrialists to dedicated conservationists to today’s producers and enthusiasts.

Saving the bison from near extinction required a core of concerned individuals that became an international movement of people with conservation ideals, Native Americans, and Great Plains ranchers. Today natural preserves and ranches in all fifty of the United States and all of the Canadian provinces support herds of about 500,000 bison.

Exhibit partners: Humanities Montana, Buchanan Capital, Montana Bison Association, National Buffalo Foundation, Bobbie and Don Woerner, Dan & JoAnne Coolidge, Richard & LuDon DeVille, and Carbon County Historical Society and Museum

The Southsiders

Through May 12, 2018

Billings was founded as a railroad town in 1882. The tracks, placed through the center of town, split the city into two halves. The north side of the tracks was chosen as the location for Billings’ depot which was quickly followed by the first four major churches, large hotels, the Parmly Billings Public Library, Billings’ City Hall, and the Yellowstone County Courthouse.

With civic development focused on the Northside, the Southside became home to the majority of early ethnic groups and industrial development, including the sugar factory. The neighborhoods developed a unique community centered on religion, family, and social groups. They saw everyone south of the tracks as Southsiders.

Exhibit Partners: Healthy by Design, Billings Community Foundation, Humanities Montana, and Montana Historical Society

Blackfeet Indian Tipis: Design and Legend

February 20 – August 25, 2018

The exhibit consists of silk-screen color reproductions of painted Blackfeet tipis recorded by Olga Ross Hannon and Jessie Wilbur during the summers of 1944 and 1945. The tipis prints and the associated Blackfeet stories, which were recorded by Cecile Black Boy in the 1940s, were put together in an exhibit format by the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, with funding from the Montana Arts Council.

Dude Ranch Lobby

The museum’s lower gallery has been made over to replicate the lobby of a 1930s dude ranch lodge.  Rustic western furniture, inspired by the designs of Thomas Molesworth, and a stone fireplace, provide the ideal setting to display paintings by James Kenneth Ralston, a regional artist inspired by the great stories of the West.


J.K. Ralston: Studio Cabin

James Kenneth (J.K.) Ralston (1896-1987) was a noted western artist who lived in Billings for many years.  In 1946, Ralston and his son built a log cabin to serve as the artist’s studio.  In 2005, the cabin was moved to the Western Heritage Center and the cabin’s interior was restored to reflect his working environment.  Ralston’s oil paintings and sketchbooks include scenes depicting his early years growing up on ranches and riding the range in Montana.  He relied on family heirlooms and collected artifacts to help him create accurate depictions of famous western events.  The Western Heritage Center merged with the J.K. Ralston Studio and now houses a significant repository of the famed artist’s letters, memorabilia and artwork. 

In Voice of the Curlew (J.K. Ralston Studio, Inc.:1986) Ralston is quoted as saying: 
"In looking back over the years, I must say the art game has been good to me.  It has been rewarding far beyond anything I ever dreamed of as a small boy living on ranch along the Missouri River.  Art was always the way I found to express myself and of the things that have meant so much to me and to my people.

I’m glad that the dice was so rolled out that to be a cowboy I was born.  I saw the curtain rung down on the last of the old time range business in Montana.  Like a lot of others, I hated to see it go.  Now it is history and I am very, very glad that I lived in time and to see and be part of it.

I have been drawing pictures as far back as I can remember and I have made it my life’s work to try and make the old west live on canvas."


American Indian Tribal Histories Project

The permanent American Indian Tribal Histories Project Exhibit provides visitors with an overview of Montana’s Native American tribes through maps, tribal flags and an explanation of their symbols, Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribal member oral histories and a chronology of the American Indian Tribal Histories Project, whose mission is to preserve and maintain American Indian tribal histories and culture.