Where History Happens Every Day!

The Museum is housed in the historic Central School building, which first opened its doors in 1894. In nearly 100 years of serving the educational needs of the Flathead Valley, Central School had been a high school, a junior high school, a grade school, and housed classrooms for Flathead Valley Community College.

Today Central School carries on its educational tradition as a museum preserving and presenting local history.

Currently at the Museum


Museum at Central School Open Saturdays! Free Guided Tour! 

Summer  2018

During the summer of 2018, the Museum at Central School in beautiful downtown Kalispell will be expanding its hours and will be open from 10am to 3pm every Saturday! The Northwest Montana Historical Society is confident that these new hours will enable more people than ever to tour the Museum and will introduce the rich history of Northwest Montana to an entirely new group of visitors.

During this time, not only will all the galleries of the Museum be open for exploration, but hundreds of titles of Montana history and fiction (along with coffee and local craft sodas) will be available for purchase in the newly remodeled Schoolbell Bookstore. In addition to all of this, the Museum is happy to offer FREE docent-led tours every Saturday at noon for Museum guests. This tour will take visitors into every gallery, shedding light on some treasures of the collection and sharing stories that most Museum visitors never get to hear.


Then and Now Exhibit 

Through Fall 2018

Everywhere we look, we can’t help but see how the world has evolved, and is evolving still. Even our household goods, the things we use regularly in our everyday life, sometimes bear little resemblance to the earlier versions of “things” meant to serve the same purpose. Over a century after the end of the Industrial Revolution, common items are made and used more abundantly and more efficiently than ever before. And yet, even though today’s goods are more available and more affordable, there is little doubt that this  widespread availability has brought with it certain sacrifices.

Where as in the past something old may have been fixed and repaired whenever possible, and passed down to  future generations, it is now more common to simply discard and replace. Human beings have certainly adopted a mass-produced lifestyle, but not without the cost of a do-it-yourself mentality, an entrepreneurial spirit, a reliance on community partnerships, and a willingness to adapt. So please join us on this journey as we explore the roots of some of the most common items we use in our day-to-day lives. And as our society continues to grow, even some of the modern objects we carry with us at this very moment may eventually be bound for the halls of a museum such as this one.

 “James R. Bakke: True Montana Artist”

October 11th through September 2018

James R. Bakke: True Montana Artist**” contains over seventy five photographic images from the longtime-Flathead artist, some of which are being publicly displayed for the first time. Curated by Kalispell master photographer Bret Bouda, this exhibition portrays numerous subjects in the Flathead’s past, from farm life to industry to Glacier National Park, highlighting just how much the region has changed in a relatively short amount of time.

Better known as a painter, James Bakke was also a gifted photographer, capturing important moments in twentieth century history and breathtaking natural beauty. Although it can easily stand on its own, Bakke initially used his photography as a model for his paintwork, and we are very pleased to have some of his paintings on loan from the Stumptown Historical Society for this exhibition. We are excited to have the opportunity to show Bakke’s photography and paintings side by side, illuminating the artistic process and Bakke’s mastery of his craft.

  Historic Film Club

 All are welcome–FREE!
Tuesday, May 29th, 7pm – Seabiscuit (2003)

In the middle of the Great Depression, Charles S. Howard and Red Pollard both needed fresh starts. Howard (Jeff Bridges) was a wealthy car dealer in California dealing with depression; Pollard (Tobey Maguire) was a temperamental jockey who was blind in one eye. It took Seabiscuit to bring both men together, and together they set their sights on a race against the top horse of the day, War Admiral. Also starring Chris Cooper and Elizabeth Banks, Seabiscuit was a historic fiction blockbuster as well as a critical darling, and was nominated for seven Oscars.

Right in the thick or horse racing season, the same month as the Kentucky Derby and only ten days after the running of the 2018 Preakness Stakes!

 Film screenings are free, with free popcorn!   Wine, beer, pop & water available for sale.  Donations welcome to defer cost of program.


History Book Club

Thursday, June 14, 6:30pm
Bold Women in Montana History
Beth Judy

From the Blackfeet warrior Running Eagle to the stereotype-smashing librarian Alma Jacobs, the eleven women portrayed in this engaging book were indeed bold, breaking down barriers of sexism, racism, and political opposition to emerge as heroines of their time. Bold Women in Montana History reveals the feminine side of the Treasure State’s storied past.


Newsletter Spring 2018