Northwest Montana History Museum, Kalispell

Kurt Norris
Last Updated: February 27th, 2023

Operated by the Northwest Montana Historical Society, the Northwest Montana History Museum is one of the premier archives for the history surrounding the Flathead Valley community and region.

Through acquiring and displaying artifacts, the museum aims to preserve local history and educate the surrounding communities about the region’s cultural traditions.

What Is the Northwest Montana History Museum?

The Northwest Montana Historical Society was founded in 1987 to preserve and present Northwest Montana History, provide cultural and educational programming to the community, and serve as an important social gathering place.

This society’s mission is reflected in the very building that its museum occupies. As one of the last examples of the Richardsonian Romanesque architecture style, the Northwest Montana History Museum still features many of the hardwood floors, wainscoting, and tin-plate ceilings that the original architectural style is known for.

Inside the monumental building, the museum features a variety of exhibition and event rooms that cater to the cultural and historical education of the Flathead Valley region and invites guests to explore the many artifacts it houses in its storied walls.

What Is There to See and Do at the Northwest Montana History Museum?

See and do at the northwest montana history museum

There are plenty of artifacts to be uncovered at the Northwest Montana History Museum, and the story of Flathead Valley’s cultural development is just waiting to be explored through six permanent exhibits.

Early Residents Honor Roll

The Early Residents Honor Roll exhibit is a collection of individuals that have worked to shape the communities of Northwest Montana as we know it.

The names featured on this list are those who helped create the legal, judicial, civic, industrial, religious, and educational foundations of the systems that currently thrive in the valley today.

The Northwest Montana Historical Museum preserves the stories of these people in the memory book featured at the focal point of this display.

Flathead Valley History

Long before colonial settlements sprung up across the state, Native American tribes were already calling Flathead Valley home.

The Flathead Valley History Exhibit explores the entire history of the communities that once resided in the region and how they have developed to become the valley we know today.

Starting 10,000 years ago, the exhibit explores the native people who had ventured to the valley by foot and canoe and how the explorers would follow these same paths thousands of years later.

The exhibit also features artifacts and preservations of early colonial homesteading and explores the communities the settlers established along with their evolution to the modern cities we know today.

Greetings From Demersville

Kalispell may be the center of commerce in the Flathead Valley today, but during the region’s early settlement period, Demersville served as the community’s beating heart.

In its hay-day, Demersvilee was one of a kind; it was the premier destination and the primary stomping ground for people living around the valley. However, this once-bustling city is nowhere to be found on today’s maps.

This is because the remnants of Demersville are all but gone, and the city is only remembered by a deserted stretch of rural road and only a handful of preserved historic buildings.

Through their Greetings From Demersville exhibit, the Northwest Montana History museum chronicles the development and fall of the city. It explores such iconic buildings as the Cliff House hotel, the early lake steamboats, and the old military post.

The Land of Many Stories

The Land of Many Stories exhibit analyzes and reflects on the rich history of the region now occupied by the Glacier National Park. While the area was only defined as a National Park on May 11, 1910, the region has been long attracting visitors to its picturesque landscape for thousands of years.

From pre-European contact to present-day preservation efforts, the Land of Many Stories exhibit explores the way the local people and visitors have interacted with the breathtakingly beautiful countryside of Glacier National Park.

On a Passing Frontier

The Northwest Montana History Museum’s On a Passing Frontier exhibit explores the region’s earliest communities; the Native American Tribes of Flathead Valley.

Occupying the region for over 6000 years, the exhibit analyzes how these tribes hunted, crafted things such as clothes, and constructed their tribal communities.

Beyond the “Golden Age” of the American Indian, the On a Passing Frontier exhibit explores the displacing effects of 19th-century settlements.

This example of “Old West Montana” is explored through the influences of Frank Bird Linderman, who is perhaps best remembered for his personal, professional, and political dealing with the American Native tribes of the region.

Sand Monkeys, Tie Hacks, and River Pigs

The museum’s Sand Monkeys, Tie Hacks, and River Pigs exhibit explores Montana’s Timber industry and its historical influences during the state’s early settlement.

Beginning in 1875, the exhibit explores the entire timeline of Montana’s logging industry through artifacts, photographs, and historical documents.

Visitors to the exhibit will learn how the development of the industry evolved with the introduction of the first sawmill in 1884 and the Great Northern Railroad in 1889.

What Are Some Services and Programs the Northwest Montana History Museum Offers?

programs the northwest montana history museum offers

Beyond preserving and displaying artifacts, the Northwest Montana History Museum serves as an important social center for the communities of Flathead Valley.

The museum offers a wide selection of public programs and groups to help facilitate its guests’ immersion into history.

Movie Night at the Museum

Operating out of the museum is the Historic Film Club. Airing a series of classic films throughout the year, Movie Night at the Museum is a fantastic way to socialize with the community while exploring the finer themes of classic cinematography.

History Book Club

The museum’s history book club explores concepts of local history through the medium of literature.

Members of the club will learn the region’s stories through the curated reading list and meet regularly to discuss the themes and information presented in each book.

How to Visit the Northwest Montana History Museum

The Northwest Montana History Museum is located at 124 Second Ave. East, Kalispell, MT 59901. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

General Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and free for members and children.

For more information, call (406) 756-8381 before visiting.


The Northwest Montana History Museum is the premier archive for preserving and displaying artifacts that recall the histories of Flathead Valley and surrounding regions.

The museum provides guests with an insight into the development of the area from an untouched, pristine landscape to the modern cities and communities we know today.

Check the museum’s event schedule before visiting for even greater insight into the region’s storied past.

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About The Author

Kurt Norris

A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.

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