Western Heritage Center, Billings, Montana – Brief organizational profile
In 2021, we celebrate 50 years of serving Yellowstone County, Montana, Wyoming, and travelers to the region.
Since 1971, the Western Heritage Center (WHC) promotes an appreciation of the history of the Northern High Plains by collecting, sharing, and preserving the stories and artifacts of the Yellowstone River Valley region. Our interpretive focus is south-central and southeastern Montana. Housed in the historic Parmly Billings Memorial Library building, located in downtown Billings, the WHC provides interpretive displays with hands-on components, offers several innovative traveling exhibits, and cares for an artifact and archive collection of 40,000 items. The annual museum budget includes a Yellowstone County mill levy, representing over 50% of our annual budget, membership dues, program sponsorships, museum entry fees, gift store sales, contracted services, fundraising events, endowment interest payments, and other project oriented grant funds that help us to raise the targeted annual budget of about ~$290,000. Working closely with local cultural partners and businesses, the museum board and staff view the museum as a center for regional engagement. We are grateful for all the support!
What do we Do: All of the resources at the Western Heritage Center (WHC) are used for preserving and sharing the history of south-central and south-eastern Montana. For Montanans (and our Wyoming friends), we consistently present new research and programs about the people, places, and events immediate to us. This informs us of the richness of our regional history – making us more mindful of our own home. Travelers visit us to learn the history of the Yellowstone River Valley, giving them a base for which to explore further. In the simplest terms, we strive to make people feel more at home (warts and all). As a proactive institution, we identify community needs early and seize opportunities that allow us to serve our visitors and community to the best of our ability. We emphasize the need for solid research and being engaged with our community. Kevin Kooistra, Executive Director