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Published 19:04 - 04/01/2020 Updated 15:50 - 07/07/2021

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The New Montana Heritage Center


The Veterans and Pioneers Memorial Building has been home to the Montana Historical Society since 1952. Since that time, this building has provided a home for the Society’s work, collections, and research. As Montana has grown, however, so have the needs of its Historical Society.

Building a larger facility will ensure the Montana Historical Society will always collect, preserve, interpret, and display the stories that have shaped our lives and our land. A new building large enough to preserve and protect our ever-expanding collections and provide a modern venue for for exhibits will ensure these artifacts can be viewed by future generations of Montanans. Some of the state’s important artifacts and irreplaceable items are never seen by the public because of the limited display areas presently available in the existing building.


Montana Historical Society

The Montana Historical Society (MHS) was established in Virginia City in 1865 before Montana was even a state. It became a state agency in 1891 (22-3-101 MCA) and is charged with "the use, learning, culture, and enjoyment of the citizens of the state and for the acquisition, preservation, and protection of historical records, art, archival, and museum objects, historical places, sites, and monuments and the custody, maintenance, and operation of the historical library, museums, art galleries, and historical places, sites, and monuments."

The Montana Historical Society is raising an additional $10 million in funding for the new Montana Heritage Center. Support our cause and donate here.


Financing & Legislation

Learn more about the legislation process and how this building is being financed here.


Project Phases

The project from start to finish includes multiple phases.

The site selection phase included evaluation of all sites within a 10-mile radius around the Capitol complex, including the Legislature’s previously designated location at 6th and Roberts, the former Capitol Hill Mall site on 11th Avenue, Padbury Ranch, current state-owned land near the Montana Department of Transportation and airport property.

The 6 & Roberts site was selected based on a report by Cushing Terrill (CT). Five sites were narrowed down from 22 original locations based on criteria developed by CT and the steering and building project committees. The main areas communicated to us throughout the site selection process were for access, visibility, and parking. These items will remain important throughout the entire project.

Although a preliminary concept for a new Heritage Center was developed in 2010, we started the design process from the beginning not only to update the concept, but to incorporate new directives and priorities.

Committee members were directed to aspire to the highest standards of efficiency and sustainability for the design. This will be the first building constructed on the Capitol campus in 36 years. The last building constructed was in 1984. The building committee is exploring ways to make this building as efficient as possible, including pursuing high-level third party certifications, such as USGBC LEED or the Green Building Initiative.

The Building Committee was tasked with determining the structure, design, and look of the new Heritage Center, with consideration to the needs of the Montana Historical Society, the Capitol complex, and the public.

The design phase is expected to last 12-18 months and is comprised of a detailed analysis for the Heritage Center needs for the space, creating requirements and finalizing building plans.

During the early stages of the design phase, selection of a general contractor will occur utilizing an alternative delivery/request for proposals process. This method maximizes budget and schedule control through real-time cost estimating, phasing analysis, constructability reviews of the design, and early collaboration among all project team members.

Construction activities started Fall 2020 with relocation of the Capitol Complex maintenance shops, major utilities work, removal of small structures, and clearing the site. This work is essential to prepare the site to expand parking for the 67th legislative session (January through April 2021) and to commence full construction of Montana’s Museum in May 2021.

To allow the Historical Society to remain open and operating as much as possible, the current phasing concept will involve construction of the new addition (the Heritage Center) from May 2021 to December 2022 and then take on upgrades to the existing Veterans & Pioneers Memorial Building (the current Historical Society facility) through all of 2023, with a grand re-opening event tentatively planned for early 2024.

The Montana Heritage Center will capture the grandeur of Montana by celebrating the natural features, diverse cultures, and stories of our past. After years of hard work, consensus-building, and careful design, the new home for the Montana Historical Society will include expanded museum exhibits, new educational space and a public event center, an enhanced research center, plus an outdoor courtyard and rooftop terrace. Visitors from across Montana and the world will experience state-of-the-art displays of our ever-expanding collections, only a few steps away from the Capitol building.

Hearing the excited voices of visitors of all ages as they explore the new Center, and watching them learn what it means to be a Montanan, will be a constant reminder of why this is such a special place. The doors are slated to open in December of 2024.


Project Committees

The Steering Committee is an ad hoc committee, which oversees and sets direction for the Building Committee.

The Building Committee will be tasked with considering the current, future, and projected needs of the Montana Historical Society, the Capitol complex, and the public, with attention to the Society’s responsibilities and mission.

Committee members for this project were selected on the basis of the specific responsibilities related to their position and their particular expertise or knowledge of the specific project type or programs served in general; or c) to represent the interests of a particular constituent group. Steering Committee members may also serve on the Building Committee as appropriate due to their respective positions. Learn more about the responsibilities of the Building Committee:


The committees will report to Department of Administration Director throughout the project.

Tribal Involvement

Montana’s Museum a place for learning, collaboration, and building relationships from corner to corner and everywhere in between. To turn this vision into a successful reality, it’s imperative we capture design-phase impressions and input from Montana's Tribal Nations as the new Montana Heritage Center moves forward. The project team is collaborating with a group of advisors to help establish relationships, provide status updates, and act as a liaison with tribal leadership and communities. This group will be an active partner with the building committee relaying input from tribal communities, and act as an adviser to the design team.


The New Montana Heritage Center


The Veterans and Pioneers Memorial Building has been home to the Montana Historical Society since 1952. Since that time, this building has provided a home for the Society’s work, collections, and research. As Montana has grown, however, so have the needs of its Historical Society.

Building a larger facility will ensure the Montana Historical Society will always collect, preserve, interpret, and display the stories that have shaped our lives and our land. A new building large enough to preserve and protect our ever-expanding collections and provide a modern venue for for exhibits will ensure these artifacts can be viewed by future generations of Montanans. Some of the state’s important artifacts and irreplaceable items are never seen by the public because of the limited display areas presently available in the existing building.


Montana Historical Society

The Montana Historical Society (MHS) was established in Virginia City in 1865 before Montana was even a state. It became a state agency in 1891 (22-3-101 MCA) and is charged with "the use, learning, culture, and enjoyment of the citizens of the state and for the acquisition, preservation, and protection of historical records, art, archival, and museum objects, historical places, sites, and monuments and the custody, maintenance, and operation of the historical library, museums, art galleries, and historical places, sites, and monuments."

The Montana Historical Society is raising an additional $10 million in funding for the new Montana Heritage Center. Support our cause and donate here.


Financing & Legislation

Learn more about the legislation process and how this building is being financed here.


Project Phases

The project from start to finish includes multiple phases.

The site selection phase included evaluation of all sites within a 10-mile radius around the Capitol complex, including the Legislature’s previously designated location at 6th and Roberts, the former Capitol Hill Mall site on 11th Avenue, Padbury Ranch, current state-owned land near the Montana Department of Transportation and airport property.

The 6 & Roberts site was selected based on a report by Cushing Terrill (CT). Five sites were narrowed down from 22 original locations based on criteria developed by CT and the steering and building project committees. The main areas communicated to us throughout the site selection process were for access, visibility, and parking. These items will remain important throughout the entire project.

Although a preliminary concept for a new Heritage Center was developed in 2010, we started the design process from the beginning not only to update the concept, but to incorporate new directives and priorities.

Committee members were directed to aspire to the highest standards of efficiency and sustainability for the design. This will be the first building constructed on the Capitol campus in 36 years. The last building constructed was in 1984. The building committee is exploring ways to make this building as efficient as possible, including pursuing high-level third party certifications, such as USGBC LEED or the Green Building Initiative.

The Building Committee was tasked with determining the structure, design, and look of the new Heritage Center, with consideration to the needs of the Montana Historical Society, the Capitol complex, and the public.

The design phase is expected to last 12-18 months and is comprised of a detailed analysis for the Heritage Center needs for the space, creating requirements and finalizing building plans.

During the early stages of the design phase, selection of a general contractor will occur utilizing an alternative delivery/request for proposals process. This method maximizes budget and schedule control through real-time cost estimating, phasing analysis, constructability reviews of the design, and early collaboration among all project team members.

Construction activities started Fall 2020 with relocation of the Capitol Complex maintenance shops, major utilities work, removal of small structures, and clearing the site. This work is essential to prepare the site to expand parking for the 67th legislative session (January through April 2021) and to commence full construction of Montana’s Museum in May 2021.

To allow the Historical Society to remain open and operating as much as possible, the current phasing concept will involve construction of the new addition (the Heritage Center) from May 2021 to December 2022 and then take on upgrades to the existing Veterans & Pioneers Memorial Building (the current Historical Society facility) through all of 2023, with a grand re-opening event tentatively planned for early 2024.

The Montana Heritage Center will capture the grandeur of Montana by celebrating the natural features, diverse cultures, and stories of our past. After years of hard work, consensus-building, and careful design, the new home for the Montana Historical Society will include expanded museum exhibits, new educational space and a public event center, an enhanced research center, plus an outdoor courtyard and rooftop terrace. Visitors from across Montana and the world will experience state-of-the-art displays of our ever-expanding collections, only a few steps away from the Capitol building.

Hearing the excited voices of visitors of all ages as they explore the new Center, and watching them learn what it means to be a Montanan, will be a constant reminder of why this is such a special place. The doors are slated to open in December of 2024.


Project Committees

The Steering Committee is an ad hoc committee, which oversees and sets direction for the Building Committee.

The Building Committee will be tasked with considering the current, future, and projected needs of the Montana Historical Society, the Capitol complex, and the public, with attention to the Society’s responsibilities and mission.

Committee members for this project were selected on the basis of the specific responsibilities related to their position and their particular expertise or knowledge of the specific project type or programs served in general; or c) to represent the interests of a particular constituent group. Steering Committee members may also serve on the Building Committee as appropriate due to their respective positions. Learn more about the responsibilities of the Building Committee:


The committees will report to Department of Administration Director throughout the project.

Tribal Involvement

Montana’s Museum a place for learning, collaboration, and building relationships from corner to corner and everywhere in between. To turn this vision into a successful reality, it’s imperative we capture design-phase impressions and input from Montana's Tribal Nations as the new Montana Heritage Center moves forward. The project team is collaborating with a group of advisors to help establish relationships, provide status updates, and act as a liaison with tribal leadership and communities. This group will be an active partner with the building committee relaying input from tribal communities, and act as an adviser to the design team.


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