For the next couple of months, the Ravalli County Museum will be undergoing some improvements. As a result, the Hamilton building will be open to the public only one day a week - Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. That day coincides with its popular (and free) kids' "Learning Adventure" series that happens every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. In a web message, officials said the museum will open on a regular fulltime schedule in the spring.

The building originally was the Ravalli County Courthouse and has undergone quite a few updates through the years, including an elevator and new wiring and lighting. There are 28 galleries and chambers. Nine are exhibition rooms with six permanent displays created by the museum's extensive collections, including pioneer families who settled the Bitterroot Valley. There's also a permanent exhibit with artifacts from the Salish, Kootenai and Nez Perce Native American tribes.

Even though the museum is closed most of the week, you can still see a great exhibit on the lawn at South 3rd and Bedford. It's a glacial "erratic" - a boulder that floated on the ice of Glacial Lake Missoula thousands of years ago, and as the ice melted, dropped to the ground just south of Hamilton. The huge rock was moved to the museum in 2020 and the interpretive panels surrounding it can viewed any time (see photo below). It's part of the new exhibit inside the museum which celebrates the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

The Ravalli County Museum likes to promote the fact that it's at the confluence of three historic trails - the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Nee-Me-Poo National Historic Trail and now the Ice Age Floods trail.

One other thing - due to COVID-19 concerns, the museum currently is not accepting donated items for their collection. If you have an item you'd like the Collections Committee to review, send a brief description by e-mail or regular mail. The street address is Ravalli County Museum, Collections Manager, 205 Bedford, Hamilton, MT 59840. Or you can call (406) 363-3338 - extension 18.

glacial panel and rock
Ravalli County Museum outdoors glacial exhibit. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)

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