Western Heritage Center

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Parmly Billings Memorial Library
Parmly Billings Memorial Library.jpg
The building in 1920.
Western Heritage Center is located in Montana
Western Heritage Center
Location 2822 Montana Ave., Billings, Montana
Built 1901
Architect Charles S. Haire
Architectural style Richardsonian Romanesque
NRHP Reference # 72000740
Added to NRHP 26 October 1972

The Western Heritage Center is a regional museum located in the Historic District in downtown Billings, Montana. This museum used to be the Parmly Billings Memorial Library. Built in 1901, the library turned museum houses a collection of artifacts about the history of the Yellowstone River Valley.

The Western Heritage Center is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution[1] and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.[2] The museum opened in 1971 after a organized group of concerned citizens prevented the building from meeting the wrecking ball and being turned into a parking lot.

The museum is housed in the Parmly Billings Memorial Library building, a Richardsonian Romanesque building built in 1901 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The WHC's mission is to promote an appreciation of the history of the Northern High Plains by collecting, sharing, and preserving stories and artifacts of Yellowstone River Valley life.

In 2001, the WHC received the Montana Governor's Humanities Award, being only the second organization to receive the honor reserved for individual contributions to the Humanities. [3] In 2002, the WHC became the first Smithsonian Institution affiliate museum in the Northern Plains. Beginning in 2004, and presently running through 2008, WHC received federal appropriations from the United States Department of the Interior for the American Indian Tribal Histories Project, a program contributing to the preservation of Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribal histories.

The Western Heritage Center is committed to providing public programs at minimal or no cost. Programs include the monthly High Noon lecture and video series, teacher workshops, school traveling trunks, eight traveling exhibits, partnerships with regional museums, and active participation in local events. The WHC coordinates five to seven changing exhibits each year.

The Western Heritage publishes books, video materials, and education kits relating to regional history. The museum cares for 17,000 artifacts that illustrate and document Yellowstone River Valley history.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Western Heritage Center". Smithsonian Affiliations. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "List of Accredited Museums April 2013" (PDF). American Alliance of Museums. p. 15. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "State to honor Western Heritage Center, 6 others with humanities awards". Billings Gazette. Associated Press. 25 December 2000. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 

Coordinates: 45°46′50″N 108°30′20″W / 45.780619°N 108.505488°W / 45.780619; -108.505488