MONTANA – A small ceremony marking the beginning of construction of the new Montana Heritage Center was held at 11 a.m. outside the current Montana Historical Society, at 225 North Roberts Street in Helena.
The event was limited to 50 people who played an integral part in the decades-long effort to construct the new facility. All attendees were screened for COVID-19 symptoms and anyone exhibiting symptoms was not admitted. During the event, all participants were required to wear masks. The event was streamed live on the Montana Historical Society’s Facebook page, MPAN’s PBS stations, and was posted online following the event at HCTV in Helena at https://www.helenacivictv.org/ and also https://montanasmuseum.org/.
“We know that Montanans and visitors alike come here to experience our rich history. The Heritage Center, Montana’s Museum, will afford future generations the opportunity to experience what makes our state such a unique, captivating, and celebrated place,” said Gov. Steve Bullock.
“Kicking off construction provides needed jobs and puts Montanans to work right away. It also means that folks will soon be able to take advantage of a museum worthy of our heritage,” added Bullock.
Montana’s museum will be a major component of the state’s tourism infrastructure and overall economy. The University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research estimates that the new Montana Heritage Center will attract 78,000 additional visitors a year and generate $7.5 million more in annual tourist spending. (The Economic Contribution of the Montana Historical Society,” October 2016.) Through this increased tourist spending, the project is expected to pay for itself within seven years of the grand opening in 2024, as well as creating construction jobs for the next 3 years.
With the passage of Senate Bill 338, also known as the Montana Museums Act of 2020, the 66th Montana Legislature directed the Montana Department of Administration to oversee the project. Other project partners include design firm Cushing Terrell of Bozeman and Sletten Construction from Great Falls.
“The Montana Museum Act of 2020 benefits communities across Montana. It was made possible by the spirit of bipartisan cooperation in the legislature and broad support by the public,” said Bruce Whittenberg, Executive Director of the Montana Historical Society. “We are looking forward to opening the Montana Heritage Center in 2024, to benefit all Montanans and visitors alike.”
The recently passed legislation provided a new revenue source for construction of the Heritage Center and requires no reallocation of existing revenues or use of general fund dollars. Costs for the project will be covered by a mix of this new funding along with bonding and private contributions.
The Historical Society's vision is to make Montana's Museum a place for learning, collaboration, and building relationships to ensure it represents all our shared history. The project is anticipated to be completed in early 2024.
Information and updates, including upcoming meetings, will be posted online throughout the project at https://montanasmuseum.org/
Amber Conger, Communications Director, Department of Administration - 406-444-5764
Eve Byron, Public Information Officer, Montana Historical Society - 406-444-6843