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Yellowstone Gateway Museum, Montana

Intent on collecting, preserving, and interpreting the natural and cultural history of Park County in Montana and Yellowstone.

The museum is home to artifacts and memorabilia pertaining to the history of the region, with online exhibits, art collections, and permanent exhibits focusing on the railway, frontier history, vehicles, and more.

livingston montana

Is There Anything Interesting About the Location of the Yellowstone Gateway Museum?

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is housed in the North Side Schoolhouse, which was built in 1907. In 1977, a group of citizens from the area, led by Doris and Bill Whithorn, founded the Park County Museum and moved into the schoolhouse.

The museum later changed its name to Yellowstone Gateway.

What Exhibits are there to Explore at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum?

exhibits to explore

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is home to a massive collection of artifacts relating to the history of the nation’s oldest national park (Yellowstone) and the surrounding region.

Native Cultures Room

In the Native Cultures room, explore history from the perspectives of the First Nations living in the region, long before pioneers and settlers took the land.

The exhibit interprets life as a Northern Plains Indian, exploring plant gathering, tools, buffalo, hunting, artwork, and more. There are stunning murals and photographs providing backdrops for exploration, along with artifacts, and more.

For the kids: a tipi sits in the center of the room, where kids climb in and explore the feeling of living in a buffalo hide tipi.

The Expedition Room

The Expedition Room houses artifacts and information regarding the early exploration of the area, including those by the famed Lewis and Clark and those lesser well-known like the Raynolds expedition and the Hayden expeditions.

Fur trappers, railways scouts, early promoters of the national parks, explorers, and many others are represented here.

The room follow the Corps of Discovery (Lewis and Clark) as it passed through the region in July 1806. You’ll see rock specimens and geological interpretations, as well as tools, clothing, and more.

And for the kids, there’s a special area for dress-up fun in clothing and accessories modeled after the early settler and explorer garb.

Pioneers Room

Life as a pioneer in the early days of Montana settlement was hard: droughts made caring for cattle and families difficult.

Some of the exhibits in the room explore this aspect of pioneer life, while others look at life on the homestead before electricity, others at sheep and dude ranching. There’s also an exploration of the military history of Park County.

In this room, kids will find more dress-up activities with clothing resembling early pioneer attire and accessories, along with fun props like washboards to practice handwashing with.

Transportation Room

Like many regions in the West, the railway had a significant impact on the area surrounding Yellowstone National Park in its early to later days. But the railways aren’t all the transportation room explores.

With more than 12,000 years of transportation history, you’ll learn about Indigenous trails, wagon roads, the Yellowstone Trail, railways, bicycles, and the other modes of transportation used throughout the area over the centuries.

One particularly exciting exhibit includes the fabrication of a walk0through of the Northern Pacific Railway Vista Dome North Coast Limited train car, with clipboards, Q&A, and more.

In the room, kids can play with the transportation table, don a conductor’s cap, or peer through a train window for a fun photo, among other exciting things.

What is the Museum Explorer’s Journal?

Designed specifically for kids, the Museum Explorer’s Journal is a 12-page journal for families to use as they go through the museum.

The journal engages kids and their families in fun activities and interactive opportunities throughout. Kids under 8 should have a parent’s guidance, while older kids should be able to navigate on their own if they so choose.

Yellowstone Gateway Museum Details

gateway museum
Image: yellowstonegatewaymuseum

If you’re ready to head over to the museum or need to ask a few questions before you make your way there, check out their details below.

  • 118 W. Chinook St., Livingston, MT
  • (406)222-4184
  • https://yellowstonegatewaymuseum.org/
  • Hours: 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday
  • Research center hours: 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Friday
  • Call for an appointment at the research center
  • Season: Year-round
  • Fees: Adults $5, Seniors (62+) $4, 13 to 18 $4, children under 13 free

What is the Research Center all About?

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is home to a research center filled with manuscripts, photographs, and rare books.

The research center is currently closed, but you may call the curator, Karen Reinhart at the museum’s standard number to inquire for more information.

The center has helped people uncover family history as well as research materials related to Park County Montana and Yellowstone National Park. The artifacts include voting ledgers, business ledgers, manuscripts, ephemera, audio-visual collections, and oral histories.

The library contains more than 1,500 non-circulating books, magazines, and newspapers regarding the history of the area, plus school yearbooks and papers, maps, and vertical subject files.

Is There a Gift Shop at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum?

While you can check out the things available for sale at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum Gift shop online, there’s nothing quite like seeing things in person.

Go in for a few minutes and explore the beadwork, books, toys, vintage cards, and license plate art – among others – while you’re here. And, fortunately, if you leave without purchasing something but later decide you should have, you do have that online option.

How Close is the Yellowstone Gateway Museum to Yellowstone National Park?

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is most closely situated near the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The museum is approximately one hour northeast of the entrance.

Conclusion

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is a fascinating place to spend the day learning about the history of Montana, Yellowstone National Park, explorers, Native Americans, the Old West, pioneers, and much more. Plan to spend several hours here, especially if your kids enjoy interactive learning playtime, and dress up.

Learn and grow together as you explore the Native Cultures, Expedition, Pioneers, and Transportation rooms. Be sure to check the calendar to ensure you’re coming when the museum is open (Tuesdays through Saturdays only) and be ready to do some walking as you make your way through the exciting, interactive displays.

Make sure you also check out the museum’s YouTube page as it contains full documentaries and features about the museum and other cultural events. 

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