Gov. Gianforte Announces a $25 Million Gift From the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation for Montana Heritage Center

Governor's Office
  • April 21 2022

HELENA, Mont. – Continuing 34 years of philanthropy, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation donated $25 million to the Montana Historical Society for the construction of the new Montana Heritage Center in Helena. The gift is the largest in the Montana Historical Society’s history.

The foundation’s gift will help cover construction costs of the $81 million Montana Heritage Center, upgrades to the existing 70-year-old Veterans and Pioneers Memorial Building, and landscaping of native plants, a sensory garden, and trails tying together the entire Montana Heritage Center campus.

Gov. Gianforte emphasized the impact of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation’s gift on Montana’s past and its future.

“Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Dennis and Phyllis Washington, the Montana Heritage Center will preserve Montana’s treasured history for generations to come,” Gov. Gianforte said. “The new center promises to offer Montanans and other visitors a glimpse into our state’s tremendous history. With the Washingtons’ support, we are one step closer to seeing the center come to fruition.”

“I’m honored to partner with the Montana Historical Society in realizing their vision of an inspiring space filled with images, objects, and artifacts that illustrate Montana’s rich history and true spirit and character. We want to create a place where visitors and future Montanans can experience and better understand how human history intertwines with natural history, and how the people that settled Montana shaped the land and were also shaped by it,” Dennis Washington said.

The Montana Heritage Center addition will house an expanded 15,000-square-foot Homeland historical gallery, with artifacts dating from 14,000 years ago up to the present; a 6,150-square-foot event center with capacity for more than 300 people; and a café offering beverages and deli items.

The new Montana Heritage Center will open in late 2024 or early 2025. Current estimates are $81 million for the 66,000-square-foot addition, plus the renovations and landscaping.

Funding for the project includes $41 million from the state accommodations tax, $7.5 million in general obligation bonds, and $900,000 in energy savings grants. In addition to this new gift, MHS already has raised almost $8 million in grants and private donations and is committed to covering the rest of the construction costs.

“We are so grateful for the support we have received and continue to see in a wide variety of ways, from small and large donations by Montana ranchers, banks, foundations, and other individuals,” said MHS Director Molly Kruckenberg. “These donations show how important our history is to our fellow Montanans and visitors.”

“Our job is to preserve, educate, and connect people to the Big History in Big Sky Country. The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation’s generous donation will ensure that mission is accomplished,” Kruckenberg continued.


About the Montana Historical Society

The Montana Historical Society is the guardian of Montana’s memory. Established in 1865, the MHS’s vast historic collections of artifacts, photographs, and documents are exhibited in six extraordinary galleries.

The mission of the Montana Historical Society is to save Montana’s past, share our stories, and inspire exploration to provide meaning for today and vision for tomorrow. To fulfill this mission, the MHS collects, preserves, and provides access to books, artifacts, photographs, and even buildings throughout the state. Learn more and enjoy, engage, explore Montana history at

About the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family. The Foundation strives to better the human condition by supporting programs and services that give people the tools to enhance the quality of their lives and to benefit society as a whole. Funding for the Foundation comes from personal contributions from the Washington family and annual contributions from The Washington Companies. The Foundation website is located at and