Interactive areas designed Especially for Children are listed for each room. Innovative History Quest “links” connect visitors to related stories and artifacts in other areas of the museum, providing a treasure hunt; ask for the worksheet at the front desk or print your own using link above. The activity is designed for curious visitors 11 years of age and up to fill out while exploring the museum. Earn a cool sticker if you complete.
For many generations, the mountains, valleys, and plains of present-day Montana have been (and still are) home to American Indian tribes. The topography of Montana is as diverse and enduring as its native peoples. The Big Bend area of the Yellowstone River (near present-day Livingston, Montana) was a crossroads of ancient trails and diverse cultures.
A Walk in Their Moccasins…The Native Cultures room interprets the Northern Plains Indians and their activities, including plant gathering, tools, hunting, and the buffalo. An Archaeology Timeline, developed by archaeologist George Frison, is illustrated by artifacts from Park County sites.
Beautiful murals and photographs on the walls provide backdrops. The murals, painted by local artist Joyce Johnson, include the renowned Anzick Site in northern Park County. A wall-sized photographic collage illustrates Crow Tribal history, including Fort Parker, the first Crow Agency, which lies just east of Livingston. The Crow Tribe is also interpreted through text and artifacts.
Especially for Children: A tipi sits in the room’s center, inviting museum visitors of all ages to go inside and enjoy the buffalo hide.
Learn more about Native Peoples whose homeland includes Montana and Yellowstone:
Visit www.montanatribes.org for tribes with reservations in Montana today. Geographically closest to Park County are the Crow Reservation in Eastern Montana, www.crow-nsn.gov, and the Shoshone-Bannock Reservation in Idaho, www.shoshonebannocktribes.com.
Native people traveled through and lived in what is now Yellowstone National Park. Information about the park’s 26 affiliated tribes is available here.
The natural resources of this area enticed many. Early expeditions, like the federally-sponsored Corps of Discovery—more familiarly, the Lewis and Clark expedition—mapped and documented the landscape and its animal and plant life while searching for a route to the Pacific Ocean. Trailblazing men followed, including fur trappers, railway route scouts, and early promoters of the world’s first national park.
From the Corps of Discovery and William Clark to Yellowstone National Park:
The Expeditions Room follows the Corps of Discovery as it passed through what became Park County in July 1806. Norm Miller photographed the landscape near Bozeman Pass and Livingston, comparing it to Captain William Clark’s maps and descriptions. The Fur Trade (1807– c. 1840), the Raynolds Expedition (1859), and the Hayden Expeditions (1871–1872) to what became Yellowstone National Park, are richly interpreted. The area’s geology is explained and rock specimens provided.
The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail! We are equipped with a passport cancellation stamp for your National Park Service passport book.
Especially for Children: Dress-up clothing and accessories—modeled after authentic mountain man clothing—helps children experience the times. And what child (or adult) can resist the room’s large spiral?
Water is central to the survival of people in this arid land. Native peoples and homesteaders needed water. The number of farms and ranches grew when there was enough moisture for families, for growing crops, and raising animals. But drought took its toll, leaving the area sparsely populated. Some families stayed, pursuing a living as best they could. Many families in Park County have been here for generations, a testimony to hard work and perseverance.
Exhibits include Life on the Homestead before Electricity and tributes to sheep and dude ranching.
A Military History of Park County, honoring the stories of local veterans, is also displayed and updated regularly on Veterans’ Day. An interactive wheel explores World War II fun facts. In 2018, museum staff and volunteers curated a new First World War exhibit that includes new stories of local servicemen and women, beautiful large prints by John C. Haberstroh, and many artifacts from WWI.
Especially for Children: Children enjoy the dress-up area that includes a trunk of “pioneer” clothing and accessories. A washboard and tub encourages youth to try hands-on scrubbing.
This room has been completely re-interpreted with a new exhibit for 2016: Wilsall to Wonderland: Trails, Roads, and Rails. Spanning more than 12,000 years of transportation history, visitors can learn about Indian trails, wagon roads, railroads, bicycles, the Yellowstone Trail, as well as today’s routes and modes of travel. The notorious winds of this area are also interpreted.
The new exhibit includes the fabrication of a walk-through Northern Pacific Railway Vista-Dome North Coast Limited train car. Of all the modes of transportation used throughout Park County, railway travel has had the greatest impact. The Northern Pacific Railway set up shop in Livingston in 1882, and was the driving force behind the establishment of the town. A spur line extended south through Paradise Valley, carrying tourists, supplies, and mail to Yellowstone National Park.
Activities for all ages include question-and-answer flipboards, an opportunity to share bicycling stories, a quest to find history “links” throughout the museum, and more.
Especially for Children: Here, children can play with a transportation table, peek out a train window for a photo op, and don a railroad conductor’s cap while sitting in the Vista Dome train car.
Museum Explorer’s Journal
Especially for Children: A 12-page Museum Explorer’s Journal takes families through the permanent exhibits with a variety of interactive and fun activities. Recommended for children ages 8 and up if they’re working independently.
Please also visit our “Temporary/Traveling Exhibits” page.