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!
Monday, August 27, 7pm – Red Skies of Montana (1952)

Cliff Mason (Richard Widmark) is a veteran foreman for the National Forest Service’s Smokejumpers unit and one of the most respected firefighters in Montana – until, that is, one fateful day, when Cliff parachutes into the heart of a huge blaze and is cut off from the men who he is supposed to be relieving. The next day, only Cliff is found alive, and with no memory of the night before. And as other firefighters begin to doubt Cliff’s abilities and courage, something even worse happens – Cliff begins to doubt himself.

Red Skies of Montana Is based on the firefighting efforts during the Mann Gulch Fire of 1949. On August 5th of that year, a team of 15 smokejumpers parachuted into the area attempting to contain the blaze. Sudden high winds, however, had other ideas, causing the fire to suddenly expand and cutting off the men’s route. In just 10 minutes, the fire grew 3,000 acres and claimed the lives of 12 of the newly arrived smokejumpers. Despite it’s age, the film hits close to home given recent fire seasons.

There is no charge for the film, and donations will be accepted to help defray the cost of acquiring and showing the films. The movie and popcorn are free; wine, beer, pop and water will be for sale. Seating is provided, but film fans can bring their own floor pillows, portable chairs, or whatever is comfortable for viewing the film.

  History Book Club

New day and time, same place and great literary conversations!
Wednesday, September 5, 2:00pm – The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck

Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail is an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the trek that has captivated readers, critics, and booksellers from coast to coast. Simultaneously a significant work of history and a moving personal saga, Buck’s chronicle will leave the reader hungry to see and experience the American West.

Quilting Club and Classes

The Museum at Central School is once again pleased to see the annual return of our quilting club! The club is free and open to the public. Beginning on Wednesday, September 5th, the club will meet every other Wednesday through November from 1 to 4 pm at Your Museum.
Anybody interested can attend any or all weeks at no charge. Participants can be complete beginners or experienced quilters looking to learn tips and new skills for projects, or looking for fellowship with fellow quilters. Fabric swatches and some tools are provided, although participants should feel free to bring scissors, straight pins, and anything else they would like to use.
The club and workshop is led by local quilter and Museum volunteer Betty Jo Malone. Any questions can be directed to Betty Jo at 406-755-6323.

Summer 2018 Newsletter