Interactive areas designed Especially for Children are listed for each room. Innovative “links” connect visitors to related stories and artifacts in other areas of the museum, providing a treasure hunt for all ages.
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:
For tribes with reservations in Montana today, visit www.montanatribes.org. Geographically closest to Park County are the Crow Reservation in Eastern Montana, visit www.crow-nsn.gov, and the Shoshone-Bannock Reservation in Idaho, visit 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.
Upcoming (temporary) Exhibits: To commemorate the National Park Service’s centennial in 2016, two special exhibits will be added to your museum experience.
A special exhibit of oil paintings by Tom L. Roberts will be on display. Roberts’s paintings depict explorers in and around the world’s first national park, Yellowstone.
An exhibit that looks back at what was happening in Yellowstone and in Park County, Montana during the transitional year of 1916. The focus will be on local businesses that forged a relationship with the park as well as what life was like for residents of the county.
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.
Especially for Children: Children enjoy the dress-up area that includes a trunk of “pioneer” clothing and accessories. A saddle invites children to climb up and let their imaginations soar. 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 and don a railroad conductor’s cap.
Especially for Children: A 12-page Museum Explorer’s Journal takes families through the permanent exhibits with a variety of interactive and fun activities.
Please also visit our “Temporary/Travelling Exhibits”