The Montana Natural History Center’s museum encompasses the flora, fauna, and natural history of western Montana. Our museum exhibits take about 30-45 minutes for adults to explore, and we’re kid-friendly! Between our children’s microscope area, exciting touch tables interspersed throughout the museum, our hands-on Naturalist Lab, and our ever-popular Kids’ Discovery Room, there’s much for your little ones to discover!
What is Montana like? It depends on which part you visit! As you travel from one side of the state to the other, you’ll pass through prairies, mountain ranges, rolling hills and valleys. Explore Montana’s four main ecosystems, from prairie to montane. and view our many mounted specimens, including bison, bears, birds, and badgers. This exhibit includes the Salish names for the animals and birds we have on display. Click the links to read and listen to them in Salish!
Learn about the huge lake that filled the Missoula Valley and beyond millennia ago, including floods that repeatedly scoured the landscape from western Montana to the Pacific. See the path of the floods, pick up a map of a driving route that visits several Glacial Lake Missoula landmarks, and watch a video about the Great Floods.
The Nature Adventure Garden, on the east side of MNHC between the river trail and our building, is designed to be a play area that is almost entirely free of traditional structures. In lieu of swings and typical playground equipment, it features boulders, hills, shrubs, and the natural structure that the research links to creative and healthy play.
The Magic Planet is a digital video globe that provides stunning visuals of the earth and other planets. It’s essentially a powerful computer with a spherical screen. It can take observers to any planet in the solar system or display important global phenomena such as climate change, plate tectonics, earthquakes, and weather. Come in and explore all it has to offer!
Montana's Ancient Past
Step back in time to prehistoric Montana! You might find yourself floating in a shallow sea, sloshing through a murky swamp, or sliding around on vast sheets of ice. Montana’s rich fossil record represents nearly every major time period in Earth’s history. Take a journey through geologic time and discover how fossils tell the story of Montana’s ancient past—and paint a picture of the future.
Naturalist Field Station
What is a naturalist? What do naturalists do? Our Naturalist Field Station answers these questions and more! This exhibit showcases naturalists at work with a rotating focus on the naturalist as an artist, scientist, and writer. We’re currently focusing on artist and naturalist Jenah Mead, who explores the extraordinary biodiversity of the natural world through observation and nature journaling. Come get a glimpse into her work, and spend some time perusing her beautiful journals, practicing her methods, and making your own journal entries!
Kids' Discovery Room
This room is just for kids! Curl up with a book, play games, perform an animal puppet show, and explore our touch table. Have fun with rocks and blocks, or see if you can identify all the native species in Melissa Madsen’s beautiful mural!
10+ kids: $1/child, adult fees waived
10+ adults: $2/person
Please call ahead to reserve the best time and date for your group visit.