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!
Explore Montana Ecosystems: Montane Forest, Intermountain Foothills, Sagebrush Steppe, and Prairie Grassland
Discover Montana’s four main ecosystems, from prairie to montane. View our mounted specimens, including bison, bears, birds, and badgers. Learn about the importance of riparian habitats and about how pronghorn evolved on our prairies, and enjoy the wonderful biodiversity of our state.
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.
Explore Fire Ecology
Fire is a natural and necessary part of our western landscapes. Learn about how wildfire has shaped our forests, how mountain pine beetles fit into the ecosystem, and which animals and plants benefit from fire.
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!
View a life-sized replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull on loan from the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center and learn about a collection of fossils from various geological eras–from thousands to millions of years ago–from the University of Montana Paleontology Center and the private collection of Sherri Lierman.
Learn about Montana’s wealth of rocks and minerals–from copper to agate to quartz and more–with a collection put together by Eagle Scout Parker Hall from the Hellgate Gem and Mineral Society.
Explore the Naturalist Field Station!
What is a naturalist? What do naturalists do? Our Naturalist Field Station answers these questions and more! Our new exhibit showcases naturalists at work with a rotating focus on the naturalist as an artist, scientist, and writer. We’re currently focusing on ecologists Kay Hajek and Mariah McIntosh with John Maron’s lab at the University of Montana, who are studying grassland plants in the Blackfoot Valley. Come get a glimpse into their work, and learn what it’s like to do research in the field!
Explore Our 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!
Explore Our Naturalist Lab
Our lab is great for kids and adults alike! We have nests, skulls, rocks, insects, microscopes, paper, colored pencils, and so much more. Come in to explore, learn, and get up close with some of the amazing specimens in our collection! Available September-May.
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.