A Northwest Montana Museum Guide

Dotted across the Flathead Valley are myriad museums dedicated to art, history and more

By Micah Drew
The Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Northwest Montana is steeped in a history that stretches from the great glacial Ice Ages to foundational 20th-century denizens. Sprinkled around the Flathead, Mission and Tobacco valleys is an array of historical societies and museums dedicated to bringing that history to life. Whether your family is faced with a rainy day to spend inside or has a deep love for learning about the past, take a trip down the region’s memory lane at a local museum. 

Hockaday Museum of Art

Housed in a turn-of-the-century historic Carnegie Library Building, the museum is named for Lakeside artist Hugh Hockaday, a successful local commercial artist. The museum’s collections focus on the grandeur of Glacier National Park, the glory days of the Empire Builder Railroad, and the Blackfeet Nation, with works by Montana photographers, painters, authors and more, including the great Charles M. Russell. 

302 2nd Avenue East, Kalispell (406) 755-5268 www.hockadaymuseum.com

Stonehenge Air Museum

Fly into another time at this unique museum, which houses more than two dozen vintage aircraft including the world’s only airworthy MK 47 Seafire. These aircraft are restored and maintained to increase public understanding and appreciation of the wonder of flight. The site also includes a replica of Stonehenge, available for tours from May to September. 

Fortine (406) 882-4714 www.stonehengeairmuseum.org

Ski Heritage Center 

Open throughout the winter, the Ski Heritage Center and Ski Museum preserves the historical and cultural impact of skiing in Whitefish. The museum includes a video library of rare historical footage of skiing in Montana during the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, as well as a local legends Hall of Fame and a recently completed 10th Mountain Division exhibit. 

705 Wisconsin Avenue, Whitefish (406) 885-2730 www.whitefishskimuseum.org

Museum of Wildlife

More than 200 taxidermied animals are on display in this hidden Hungry Horse gem. The collection ranges from locally found mammals — foxes, bears and elk — to the exotic — hippos, rhino, and giraffe.

111 Hungry Horse Boulevard, Hungry Horse (262) 617-5562

Miracle of America Museum

Consider this a smorgasbord of U.S. history that champions diversity: there’s diversity of size, with dimensions ranging from a 65-foot logging boat used on Flathead Lake to fingernail-sized arrowheads; there’s diversity of economy, including formerly forbidden fruits such as old moonshine stills and prohibition memorabilia; and a diversity of eras, from 1870s-era bicycles to 1960s-era bomber jets and more. There’s no wonder why the museum is nicknamed the “Smithsonian of the West.

36094 Memory Lane, Polson (406) 883-6804 www.miracleofamericamuseum.org

Conrad Mansion in Kalispell. Beacon file photo

Conrad Mansion

The Conrad Mansion is a unique glimpse into the 19th-century life of Kalispell’s founder, Charles E. Conrad. The 13,000-square-foot mansion offers a deep dive into the Conrad family’s history and their impact on Montana history. Take a docent-led or self-guided tour of the property’s nooks and crannies year-round. 

330 Woodland Avenue, Kalispell (406) 755-2166 www.conradmansion.com

Northwest Montana History Museum

The past meets the present at the Northwest Montana History Museum, featuring eight permanent and two temporary exhibits that cover the evolution of Northwest Montana. See the old sawmills that helped drive the initial economic boom in the valley and view early accounts of Glacier National Park’s founding days. There is also a downtown Kalispell walking tour that starts from the museum’s front door. 

124 Second Avenue East, Kalispell (406) 756-8381 www.nwmthistory.org

Columbia Falls History Museum

The Columbia Falls Historical Society opened its museum in 2022, packing a small space downtown with artifacts and equipment from the town’s early logging days, a Glacier National Park display and exhibits on the Great Northern Railway. 

6 9th Street East, Suite 100, Columbia Falls (406) 249-8198

Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana

Framed by a backdrop of the majestic Mission Mountains, the Ninepipes Museum reflects the spirit of the Flathead Indian Reservation and early Montana settlers. Collections include hunting artifacts, dioramas of early trading posts and Native American camps, and local wildlife. Let the stories of early Montana come to life before your very eyes!

69316 Highway 93, Charlo (406) 644-3435 www.ninepipesmuseum.org