Fundraising for the Museum’s future

Courtesy photo

Part of the ‘Bison: The Past, Present & Future’ exhibit at the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum, Red Lodge.

The Carbon County Historical Society & Museum, Red Lodge, has undergone a lot of changes in the last year with a new director, increased membership, new programming geared towards the young and young at heart and some incredible new exhibits. Most recently, the Bison Exhibit has taken over the main hall of the museum and has the town, and the museum world, talking.

The Bison Exhibit, which is an 1800 square foot traveling exhibit is unlike anything ever housed in the museum due to its enormity and spectacular curation. There truly is something for everyone, from a reading nook with books for all ages, a hands on tools display, games, and an entire written and visual history from millions of bison roaming the plains to their decline and slaughter all the way to their resurgence as an American icon. The exhibit is on display until Father’s Day weekend, June 16, 2018. It was brought to the museum in partnership with Western Heritage Center and sponsorship provided by Humanities Montana, National Buffalo Foundation, Montana Bison Association, Buchanan Capital, Don and Bobbie Woerner, Dan and JoAnne Coolidge and Richard and LuDon DeVille. The museum is now open Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and you will need ample time to make your way through this exhibit.

“I’m so thrilled to be hosting this exhibit,” shares Executive Director, Sarah Russell. “This is one of the most comprehensive and best curated exhibits I’ve ever seen. And the best part is that you can touch everything not under glass so it’s a very hands-on display.” One of Russell’s missions for the museum was to make it more interactive and accessible to all ages. “Museum’s share a story of the legacy of the past. If we can’t get kids interested in history, then who will take care of an institution like this for the next generation?” she adds.

Making sure the museum is around for the next generation is of the utmost importance to Russell and her Board of Directors at the museum. The museum has seen a steady decline of donations and support over the last decade and the operational costs and maintenance to the nearly 120-year old building is high. While Russell admits there has been an uptick in membership and small donations in the last 12 months, she worries about the ability for the museum to continue to serve as the county preservation office and museum to the community over the long term. “This building is expensive to maintain. The Board and community have always wanted to see the second and third floors finished but right now, we need to cover operational expenses,” says Russell.

Russell has been diligently working with other organizations to increase the exposure of the museum and has also applied for more grant funding in the last year for the museum than in previous years combined. However, she points out that most grants cover programming, not operational expenses to keep the lights on and doors open.

Russell is using the Bison Exhibit as a catalyst to fundraise for these operational expenses. She, along with the Board of Directors, invite community members to celebrate the museum and this exhibit by joining them for a bison dinner, prepared by Chef Robert Carrington at Pom Italian Eatery on May 19, 2018. The event kicks off at 5 p.m. at the museum with drinks and hors d’ouevres, and a tour of the exhibit with Don Woerner, Bison advocate and one of the sponsors of the exhibit. Buses of Yellowstone will then provide transportation for guests to Pom Italian for the meal and two incredible guest speakers, Skeeter He Does It and Mardell Plainfeather.

Tickets are $100. You may purchase them at the museum during business hours or from a board member. Guests can be ensured that nearly every penny of the ticket price for the fundraiser goes directly to covering the museum’s overhead. Montana Bison Association, Turner Enterprises and North American Bison have generously donated the meat for the evening’s meal, Chef Carrington is donating his time and the location, the guest speakers’ time and Buses of Yellowstone rides are donated too.

“This event is the beginning of a campaign to ensure the infrastructure of the institution lives on, expanded programming and exhibits will continue for the next generation, and the cultural history of Carbon County will not be lost. This seed money will also become the beginning of the remodel of our aging home, the Labor Temple, in Red Lodge,” says Board President, Richard DeVille.

The Carbon County Historical Society and Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve and communicate the history of Carbon County. You can stop by on the fourth Wednesday of each month for the exciting and informative evening lecture series. The museum and mercantile gift shop are open five days a week on Tuesday through Saturday. For additional information please call (406) 446-3667 or go online to

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, July 22, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, July 26, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, July 29, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.