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Nationally Renowned Yellowstone Country Museums

Not only does the region surrounding Yellowstone offer outstanding outdoor recreation, but the area is renowned for its many fine museums. These museums explore the unique history that has shaped this Montana region into its present form, and visitors will walk away with a new-found appreciation of Montana, its past and current inhabitants, and its diversity!

Museum of the Rockies
When you walk through the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University, you travel through more than four billion years in time. Visitors to one of Montana’s top ten tourist destinations experience the Northern Rocky Mountain region and life that emerged upon it from the beginning of time to the present.

Start your travels outside the Taylor Planetarium where a huge wall mural orients you to our place in the universe. Then test your knowledge of space at the interactive “space station.” Your next stop is Landforms/Lifeforms where you learn about the geologic formation of this region including the mountain building in Yellowstone, Glacier and Teton National Parks. Spectacular dioramas introduce you to the earliest life forms that lived here and show their fossilized counterparts. There’s also a video about the supercontinent, Pangea, a pinball game about extinction, and a number of artifacts and activities to touch or try.

Then it’s on to the Berger Dinosaur Hall. One Day 80 Million Years Ago takes you back in time to the Egg Mountain dinosaur nesting colonies near present-day Choteau, Montana. You meet Maiasaura peeblesorum and her babies and the other animals who lived there and see skulls of T. rex and Gigantosaurus. You’ll also see Torosaurus, whose nine-foot skull was the largest of any dinosaur. Fossils from current research projects are on display on the balcony overlooking the hall and volunteers in the Bowman Fossil Bank will be happy to answer your questions about fossil preparation techniques. Moving on you encounter Mammoths and the Great Ice Age, featuring fossils of animals that lived at least 10,000 years ago.

At your next stop you discover the presence of humans in the Northern Rockies. Enduring Peoples: Native Cultures of the Northern Rockies and Plains traces the origins and development of Indians who have occupied Montana and other parts of the region for more than 11,000 years. The reasons fur trappers and white settlers came west and the life styles they carved out for themselves are reflected in Montana On The Move in the Paugh History Hall. Historic artifacts, photographic wall murals and pieces from the Museum’s extensive textile collection add to your understanding of Montana’s past. Here you’ll see evidence collected from the only Lewis and Clark campsite to ever be scientifically verified.

The Museum of the Rockies is also home to the world-class Taylor Planetarium. It is the only public planetarium in a three-state region and one of the few with a computer graphics system that can simulate 3-D effects and flight through space. In addition to its main features which change quarterly, the planetarium offers live narrated tours of the night sky, laser shows, and a children’s show on Saturday mornings. There’s a constantly changing schedule of exhibits, too, so there’s always something new to see at the Museum of the Rockies. You can see what’s currently showing and what’s coming next by logging onto the web site at

Your children will love the Martin Discovery Room, an interactive play area with dinosaurs, pioneers, a play station, earthquake table and a cozy reading nook with a huge plush teddy bear. Everyone will enjoy a stop at the Museum Store, one of the best places in the area for children’s activity kits, educational toys, books, and unique gifts. During the summer months, you can lunch at the T.rextaurant on the Bair Plaza, where the menu includes Big Mike burgers and Dino nuggets for the kids. The Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 12:30 to 5 p.m. From mid-June through Labor Day, hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. A $9 adult ticket and $6.50 student ticket for children 5-18 (children under 5 are free) gets access to the museum and planetarium. Admission to the museum only is $7 for adults and $4 for children; planetarium shows are $3 and laser shows tickets are $5.

For information on current exhibits and programs, call (406) 994-2251 or (406) 994-DINO or check our website at The Museum is located on the Montana State University campus at 600 West Kagy Boulevard. The most direct route is via the 19th Street exit from Interstate 90. Travel through Bozeman on 19th Street until you reach the stoplight at Kagy Boulevard; turn left and follow the street signs.

Gallatin County Pioneer Museum
317 W. Main St. next to the courthouse in Bozeman. 582-3195.

Located amidst the town of Bozeman is the Gallatin County Pioneer Museum which includes a former county jail, jailhouse isolation chambers, an actual gallows, a 12’ x 14’ hand-hewn log cabin, and various artifacts and exhibits that bring to life the county’s colorful history. The museum is open year-round, and admission is free.

Compuseum - American Computer Museum
See the information highway when it was a dirt road! Here at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, the Compuseum will show you the most comprehensive display of the history of the information age. From the ancient cave paintings of southern France to the ideologies of the Enlightenment, the knowledge based American Revolution to the explorations of Lewis & Clark, the Pony Express, the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television, computers and the Internet are interwoven and presented in a 30,000 year timeline with thousands of historic artifacts and supporting materials.

Visitors from all 50 states and over 30 countries have marveled at the vast scope of the Compuseum’s collection ranging from 4,400 year old Babylonian Clay tablets through an original copy of Sir Isaac Newton’s revolutionary book, Principia (the foundation of physics) to rare documents from American and world-wide contributors to the rise of the Information Age including signed documents by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Morse, Ada Lovelace, Claude Shannon with original first editions of books by Charles Babbage, John Von Neuman, etc. to spectacular exhibits of antique office equipment and furniture including typewriters, cash registers, time pieces, slide rules, adding machines on through the enormous room-sized computers of the 1940s through the 1970s.

The stories of radio, television, the transistor, the microprocessor and other important inventions are showcased with world-class artifacts
including an original Apollo Moon Mission Guidance Computer, a piece of the ENIAC computer and the first generations of the personal computer including the Altair, Apple I, the IBM PC, the first portable computers and hundreds of hand-held electronic calculators including the prototype of the very first one!

The best part of the Compuseum is that those visitors with little if any computer background have left extremely positive comments regarding their ability to, for the first time, understand the computer revolution. Individuals with backgrounds and interests spanning antiques, human history, the story of writing and mathematics, philosophy and the arts have found the Compuseum equally as engaging as those particularly interested in the history and evolution of science and technology. Those who are fascinated with technology: computer and communications specialists and professional historians of science and technology, have been impressed with the depth of the Compuseum’s historic coverage. Children as well as adults enjoy the hands-on opportunities to try for themselves some early devices including typewriters, adding machines, slide rules and early games in the Compuseum’s interactive area.

The Compuseum has been written about in quality media outlets such as, The New Yorker Magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, QST Magazine, PC Week Magazine, National Public Radio, C-Span and national network television. The Compuseum is located at the American Computer Museum just three blocks north of I-90 Exit 306. There is plenty of free parking available. The admission fee is $3 per adult (13 yrs. and older), $2 per child (6 to 12 yrs.) and free for children under 6. Hours: September through May: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Noon-4 p.m. June, July & August: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week. Closed July 4th, Christmas, and New Year’s Days.

Museum of the Yellowstone
124 Yellowstone Ave. in West Yellowstone. 646-1100.

Located in the 1909 Union Pacific Depot, this museum has historic exhibits featuring cowboys, mountain men, Native Americans, and Yellowstone Park. Come face to face with the wildlife of Yellowstone, including bison, elk and the legendary grizzly “Old Snaggletooth.” Catch their fly-fishing exhibit that chronicles the history of the fly-fishing shops in West Yellowstone. Get derailed in the exhibit on the history of the Union Pacific railroad; complete with models of the train and the Northern and Union Pacific Depots. Transport yourself back to the fires of 1988. Experience the reality of man’s struggle to save the famous Old Faithful Inn and the Town of West Yellowstone. Discover how the infernos rejuvenated the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park and how the beauty still prevails. Shake, rattle, and roll with the quake that rocked the entire Yellowstone area. Can you build a structure to withstand an earthquake? Their earthquake table will give you the answer. Experience the Yellowstone of 1908-1960. With a train whistle, your trip to “Wonderland” begins. Put on your “duster” and take a magical tour through the finest souvenirs of yesteryear, including stagecoaches, memorabilia, and historic film footage. An admission is charged. The museum is open from July–August from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and September–October from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Partially reprinted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia”

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