Located in Chinook along the Montana Hi-Line, the Blaine County Museum tells the history of the land and explores the development of the West from Prehistoric to pioneer.
A part of Montana’s famous Dinosaur Trail, the Blaine County Museum is a must-visit tourist destination for visitors to Montana’s North.
What is the Blaine County Museum?
Established in 1975, the Blaine County Museum preserves and displays the rich cultural and geographical histories of Montana’s landscape and all the people that have lived there.
Through its series of thought-provoking exhibitions, the museum explores the stories of the land with an emphasis on the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre cultures, the days of the pioneer settlers, and the difficulties of the Homestead Era.
Visitors are invited to explore the history of the West, from its prehistoric dinosaur inhabitants to pioneer settlers and the modern communities that now occupy the land.
A visit to the Blaine County Museum is guaranteed to provide greater insight into the state’s wondrous landscape and the lives of all its inhabitants.
What is there to see and do at the Blaine County Museum?
The Blaine County Museum has thousands of artifacts spanning a series of diverse exhibits that present the breadth of Montana’s geographical and cultural histories.
From its iconic paleontological exhibit to its artifacts taken from the Bear Paw Battlefield, the Blaine County Museum explores the evolution of life in the state.
The Blaine County Museum’s Paleontological exhibit is a quintessential stopping point along Montana’s celebrated Dinosaur Trail.
The exhibit displays a dozen artifacts from the Judith River that contain Gorgosaurus, Edmontonia, and Hadrosaur fossils.
Also included in the museum Paleontology Exhibit are fossils from marine reptiles that occupied the ancient oceans that once flooded the now rigorous landscapes of Montana. These artifacts include the fossilized remains of gigantic sealife species such as the Mosasaur, Plesiosaur, and several invertebrate species.
Guests can receive a hands-on experience with these real-life fossils in the museum’s “Look, Touch, and Wonder” room. Here guests can explore sea creatures, plants, and dinosaur fossils through an interactive display of archeology and preservation.
Pre-exploration and Homestead Artifacts
The Blaine County Museum features several exhibits that display artifacts from the region’s pre-exploration age and the Homestead Era. Focusing on the cultures of the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre peoples, the museum explores what life was like for the region’s Native American inhabitants before western colonizers ventured to Montana’s untouched landscapes.
The museum continues the story of Montana’s communities and social evolution in their Pioneer Days of the Cowboy and the Hardships of the Homestead exhibits.
These displays of modern settlements include reconstructions of such iconic buildings as a “Tar-Paper Shack,” a schoolroom, a church, a traditional dentist and doctor’s office, and a clothing exhibit.
Nez Percé Life and Bear Paw Battlefield Exhibi
The Nez Percé is a Native tribe that has long been prominent in the Pacific Northwest. The Blaine County Museum explores and preserves the traditional lifestyle of these indigenous peoples through their displays of historical artifacts and early photographic exhibits.
Another essential exhibit concerning the Nez Percé people is the museum’s Bear Paw Battlefield display. Preserving many artifacts of the Nez Percé people’s final stand of their retreat in 1877, the exhibit serves as a monument to those who stood and died for their people.
The battlefield itself is only 16 miles South of Chinook and should be included in any itinerary to the Blaine County Museum.
“Forty Miles from Freedom” Multi-Media Presentation
One of the many highlights of the Blaine County Museum is the “Forty Miles from Freedom” multi-media presentation.
The twenty-minute exhibit combines video, lighting effects, sound, and paintings by Lorenzo Ghiglieri to recount the events that led up to the Battle of Bear Paw.
Through this innovative presentation, museum guests can learn about the development of the conflict and the remarkable and tragic feats of the Nez Percé people’s retreat to Canada.
The Blaine County Museum Book Store and Gift Shop
The Blaine County Museum’s on-site bookstore offers an extensive collection of over 500 books that cover diverse themes concerning the history of Montana and the West. The book store includes a wide selection of Montana Cookbooks, Field Guides, and children’s books.
Guests to the museum should stop by the facility’s gift shop for a souvenir. The shop sells everything from posters, games, and postcards to handmade Montana crafts and Chief Joseph T-shirts.
How to Visit the Blaine County Museum?
The Blaine County Museum is located at 501 Indiana Street, Chinook, MT 59523, and offers free admission to its facilities.
The museum’s peak operating season lasts from Memorial Day in May to Labor Day at the beginning of September. During these months, the museum opens Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, with a short closure from noon to 1:00 pm for lunch.
From October to April, the museum operates according to its off-season hours. During this season, the museum opens Monday through Friday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
The Blaine County Museum provides guests with a diverse collection of exhibits that retell the story of Montana’s storied past.
From ancient dinosaur relics to artifacts from the time of Native American tribes and early homesteaders, visitors to the museum are welcomed to explore the history of Montana’s vibrant landscape and the lives of the people who transformed it into what it is today.