I Do: A Cultural History of Montana Weddings
September 10 through December 21, 2013
I Do: A Cultural History of Montana Weddings provides an intimate and surprising look at an important tradition. The exhibit will help visitors move beyond traditional stereotypes by drawing attention to Montana’s historic diversity and by providing an intimate look at the lives of earlier generations. This exhibit is made possible by the Montana Cultural Trust and the Montana Historical Society.
Plaid Stripes and Denim: 52 Notable Montana Cowboys
September 10 through December 21, 2013
The portraits and poetry of Iris Dodge.
Echoes of Eastern Montana: Stories from an Open Country
Through December 31, 2014
This interactive exhibit will share stories of the people of the Yellowstone River Valley and Northern High Plains. Visitors can watch interviews, listen to amazing stories, read personal diaries, peruse family photo albums, copy favorite recipes, learn new Crow and Northern Cheyenne words, play interactive games, and hear local music.
People in communities as diverse as Wibaux, Colstrip, Laurel, Hardin, Forsyth, Harlowton and Billings tell compelling stories of sacrifice and struggle and offer lessons about leadership, home, and family. Come laugh at outrageous tales and discover the changing world of Eastern Montana.
Billings: The Railroads Shape our Town
Billings Montana is a railroad town. Since its inception in 1882, the history and share pf the town have been influenced by the railroads. Throughout Billings is evidence of the railroad's impact in planning, designing, and promiting the settlement of the region. This exhibit and short film illustrate how we can still see the impact of the railroad in Billings.
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: History on Canvas
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."
Photo: Billings Mayor Willard Fraser confers with James Kenneth Ralston in Ralston’s studio cabin, 1960s. The cabin is now located on the grounds of the Western Heritage Center.
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.