The museum was opened on June 16, 1968 by the Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation. The Archives of the Canadian Rockies was the starting point of the museum and the Banff Library was incorporated in the Whyte Museum in 1970. The exhibition space saw several expansions during the 1980s and a new facility was opened in 1993. The museum acquires and exhibits art and artifacts from the Canadian Rockies, aiming to showcase the culture and history of the Rocky Mountains of Canada. Many of Byron Harmon's photographs, pioneer photographer of the Canadian Rockies, are housed at the museum.