Exhibits & Outreach » Traveling Exhibits

Traveling Exhibits

For more information about these exhibits or to schedule them for your facility, please contact Kevin Kooistra at (406) 256-6809, or kevin@ywhc.org

Coming Home: The Northern Cheyenne Odyssey 
The Northern Cheyenne exhibit, entitled Coming Home: the Northern Cheyenne Odyssey, focuses on the stories of two Northern Cheyenne bands, one led by Chief Dull Knife and the other led by Chief Little Wolf, from 1876 to the present.  While there are many tribal leaders and stories within the Northern Cheyenne history, this exhibit focuses on events leading to the Fort Robinson Breakout, its aftermath, the struggle of these bands to return to Montana and the establishment of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeastern Montana. Events in the traveling exhibit are presented from the Northern Cheyenne perspective, with additional material from other sources. A highlight of the exhibit is the digital reproduction of an historical ledger book filled with artwork by a young Northern Cheyenne man, Little Finger. He illustrated his band’s experiences as they made their way from Oklahoma back to their Montana homeland.  
While Coming Home is a Northern Cheyenne story, it is a universal story of the triumph of will and the power of the human spirit against impossible odds. 
Parading Through History: The Apsaalooke Nation
ParadingThrough History: the Apsaalooke Nation, is a chronological journey that leads the visitor through the history and culture of the Crow tribe.  Prominent and historical Crow people represent different time periods.  The traveling exhibit explores the impact of outside forces on Crow culture.  For example, with the onset of federally mandated Indian reservations, Crow leaders had the insight to merge the knowledge of recently educated young adults with the traditional wisdom and heritage of the elders, thereby successfully retaining their tribal structures and culture. 
Traveling exhibits from the American Indian Tribal Histories Project exhibit presented at the Western Heritage Center in 2006. These traveling exhibits were created to allow new audiences to experience the culture and history of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes. 
The Expressions traveling exhibits present the perspectives of contemporary Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribal members who are involved in current affairs, yet who strive to retain their tribal heritage.  These exhibits, entitled Tsistsistas and Suhtaio: Expressions of Northern Cheyenne People and The Apsaalooke: Expressions of Crow People, expand upon the historical perspectives and include beautiful portraits and written excerpts from tribal member essays.
In these two engaging exhibits, 12 members from each tribe were asked to comment upon what it means to be a Crow or Northern Cheyenne in today’s world and the futures they envision for their respective tribes.  They were asked to discuss challenges they face as American Indians and how they have overcome those challenges. 
Blackfeet Tipi Legends
During the summers of 1944 and 1945, Olga Ross Hannon and Jessie Wilbur created sixteen silk-screen color reproductions of painted Blackfeet tipis. These prints and associated Blackfeet stories, recorded by Cecile Black Boy in the 1940s, were combined in a traveling exhibit by the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.

Antelope Tipi, 1944

Beaver Tipi of Cecile and Ruben Black Boy - 1942-1944



Montana Ghost Towns: The Photography of Denes G. Istvanffy  
By age sixteen, Denes G. Istvanffy was an award winning photographer in his native country, Hungary.  In 1948, he emigrated to the United States and eventually settled in Billings, Montana. He was passionate about Montana ghost towns and mining camps and began photographing them in 1957. He was particularly drawn to nineteenth century mining towns, such as Bannack, Virginia City, Elkhorn, Marysville, and Garnet. Under a license from the Montana Centennial Commission in 1989, Istvanffy choose 30 images from his collection of nearly 1,000 to create this traveling exhibit. For Istvanffy, the photographic possibilities were endless and the images of mining in Montana were fairly recent and close to hand.
Montana's Black Gold: Underground Coal Mining Communities, 1880-1950  
The coal mining exhibit features 49 historic photographsfrom private collections and public archives, including Montana Historical Society, Carbon County Historical Society and Roundup Record Tribune. You will discover the stories of the people who settled Montana’s early-day coal mining towns of Red Lodge, Bearcreek, Roundup, and Belt. The exhibit features the stories of miner’s and families that lived in the coal mining communities of Montana. This traveling exhibit was created by the Western Heritage Center of Billings, with a grant from the Cultural and Aesthetic Coal Tax Trust Fund.   

Klein, Montana baseball team – coal mining town.
Evelyn Cameron: Photographing Eastern Montana, 1890-1928  
Evelyn Cameron left a life of privilege in England to join her ornithologist husband, Ewen, on a ranch near Terry, Montana. A self-taught photographer, she captured images of the landscape, wildlife and people of Eastern Montana from 1890-1928. The 35 framed images represent a cross-section of her interests, including homesteading life, the birds of eastern Montana, and the intriguing badland landscapes near Terry.  The Western Heritage Center produced the first traveling exhibit of Cameron’s photographs in 1988.  Evelyn Cameron’s original negatives are now housed at the Montana Historical Society in Helena

Dick Brown, wolfer.
Explore the Yellowstone!  
Explore the Yellowstone! celebrates the magnificent landscape and rich history of the Yellowstone River Valley.  An exhibit of contemporary color images, historic photographs, and quotes, displayed on sixteen oversized panels and mounted on stock fencing. The exhibit includes educational trunks, hands-on artifacts, and information about the Yellowstone River region.  The exhibit has been displayed at forty community celebrations and events.
To produce the exhibit, the Western Heritage Center interviewed area residents, conferred with regional scholars, and collected the work of regional photographers and artists. School children created poetry and paintings for the panels.  Donations from local businesses helped in the acquisition of hands-on artifacts. Regional museum and government archives were researched for historic images and quotes. 
The exhibit travels in a stock trailer and is especially suited for county fairs and special summer events throughout the region.  The exhibit has been seen at Turkey Buzzard weekend at Makoshika State Park near Glendive, Eastern Montana Ski Festival in Wibaux, 4th of July celebrations in Livingston and Cody, Crow Fair, Fort Buford State Park in North Dakota, Hot Springs County Fair in Thermopolis, Wyoming, and the annual Clark Day celebration at Pompey’s Pillar. 
Major support for this exhibit comes from the National Park Service Challenge Cost Share Program, the Montana Cultural Trust, C.M. Bair Family Trust, Yellowstone County, National Endowment of the Arts and the National Park Service Initiative: Cultural Landscapes and Their Stories and the Western Heritage Center Foundation. 
The Real West: Farming and Ranching Families of the Yellowstone River Valley
The Real West: Farming and Ranching Families of the Yellowstone River Valley, presents 50 framed family snapshots and quotes from farming and ranching families who settled in the Yellowstone Valley prior to World War II. The people interviewed include dude ranch operator, Gil Aller of Big Timber, C.R. Bokma a cattle rancher from Columbus, dry land farmers, William and Ruth Kebschull of Boyd, ranch homemaker, Claribel Bonine of Hysham, Red Killen, a Miles City sheep rancher, and, Santos Carranza, a Sidney sugar beet farmer. Two videos present live oral history interviews with six of the participants. The quotes and photographs are from an oral history project of the Western Heritage Center of Billings, Montana. The research and production of this exhibit was made possible by a grant from the Montana Cultural Trust. 
Courtesy Claribel Bonine Family.
Bricks and Boards Poster Exhibit: Yound Photographers in Billings and Laurel
In 2002 and 2007, sixty young people, ages 2 to 18, documented the historic downtowns of Billings and Laurel.  The young photographers walked the downtowns areas and took pictures of buildings and architectural features they found interesting and described why the building or feature drew their interest.  The best photos and quotes representing these downtown photo assignments comprise this colorful  poster exhibit.  The exhibit was designed by CTA Architects and Engineers and was sponsored by the Yellowstone Historic Preservation Board and American Architectural Foundation. 



The Story of the 1937 Flood: A Cloud Burst in the Yellowstone River Valley
This poster exhibit examines one of the most photographed events in the history of the Billings region, the Flood of June, 1937.   
The history and growth of Billings and the Yellowstone Valley are shaped by water.  Historian William Lang, said that in the Yellowstone Valley, “Our stories are about living close up with natural things, about what we have done to our place, and about what has happened to us.”   So what happened during this flood?  How could so much water fill the downtown of Billings?  How did it happen so quickly?  Can it happen again?