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Western Heritage Center, Billings

#3 of 7 in Museums in Billings
History Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
The Western Heritage Center is a regional museum located in the Historic District in downtown Billings, Montana, United States. This museum used to be the Parmly Billings Memorial Library. Built in 1901, the library turned museum houses a collection of artifacts about the history of the Yellowstone River Valley.

The Western Heritage Center is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum opened in 1971 after a organized group of concerned citizens prevented the building from meeting the wrecking ball and being turned into a parking lot.

The museum is housed in the Parmly Billings Memorial Library building, a Richardsonian Romanesque building built in 1901 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The WHC's mission is to promote an appreciation of the history of the Northern High Plains by collecting, sharing, and preserving stories and artifacts of Yellowstone River Valley life.

In 2001, the WHC received the Montana Governor's Humanities Award, being only the second organization to receive the honor reserved for individual contributions to the Humanities. In 2002, the WHC became the first Smithsonian Institution affiliate museum in the Northern Plains. Beginning in 2004, and presently running through 2008, WHC received federal appropriations from the United States Department of the Interior for the American Indian Tribal Histories Project, a program contributing to the preservation of Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribal histories.

The Western Heritage Center is committed to providing public programs at minimal or no cost. Programs include the monthly High Noon lecture and video series, teacher workshops, school traveling trunks, eight traveling exhibits, partnerships with regional museums, and active participation in local events. The WHC coordinates five to seven changing exhibits each year.

The Western Heritage publishes books, video materials, and education kits relating to regional history. The museum cares for 17,000 artifacts that illustrate and document Yellowstone River Valley history.

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78 reviews
  • I really enjoyed the different displays My favorite was the one about the influencial women Montana 's past.  more »
  • Cute little museum! They were running a bee exhibit and a really cool exhibit called Sinners and Saints which showcased some very fascinating women. Parking was easy and the staff was helpful and...  more »
  • Great!! Loved it. Good front desk lady who was very informative.
  • A great center to go to among other amazing historical locations in Billings. Fun fact is that the Heffner Stone Quarry, which once was located where the college is now on 27th Street, was the place that provided the sand stone for that building. All of the sandstone came from the foot of the Rims. The sandstone of the Heffner Stone Quarry was certified to last 100 years. Another fun fact is that Heffner Steps located just to the right of 27th Street was created by that company.

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