Incorporated in 1971, the Western Heritage Center began as a community center displaying a private collection of western artifacts in the historic library building. We’ve added outreach programs and walking tours, changing interactive exhibits, eleven traveling exhibits, a collection of 40,000 historic artifacts and photographs and over 400 oral histories. The museum strives to incorporate original research into all its exhibits and programs. The Western Heritage Center is one of six Montana museums accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. A former affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, we adhere to national exhibit and archival standards. The museum is located at 2822 Montana Avenue in downtown Billings and housed in the Parmly Billings Memorial Library building (built in 1901). The building, our home base, is a beautiful Romanesque sandstone structure with twin towers that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Western Heritage Center staff, board, and volunteers are engaged in offering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the people, places, and historical events of south-central and southeastern Montana. We do this by implementing comprehensive arts and humanities projects, programs, and exhibits based on broad regional interest and need. We reach out to local, state, and national partners. We’ve recently collaborated on projects with the Mountain Plains Museum Association, Billings Chamber of Commerce, Billings Cultural Partners, Healthy By Design, Montana Historical Society, the Billings Depot, Billings Rotary, Museums Association of Montana, Billings Parks and Recreation, Yellowstone National Park, and many more. We are especially grateful for the support of Yellowstone County and its taxpayers and recognize and are thankful to our museum members and the sponsors of our programs and exhibits.
The museum is governed by a Board of Directors of 10 members serving three-year terms who meet monthly. Our annual operational budget of $290,000. The museum has a staff of six and a dedicated core of volunteers and interns. Working closely with local cultural partners and businesses, the museum board and staff view the museum as a center for regional engagement.