Great Falls museums attract plenty of tourists each year, and several of them are hoping to attract more thanks to recent federal ARPA funding.
The History Museum at 422 Second Street South is one example, with several floors worth of archives and documents, some of which are very dated. Some even go back before Montana was even a state.
"I don't know if you can feel the temperature rise, but it's really not good for historic documents,” noted museum director Kristi Scott as she ascended the stairs.
With items that old you need the right environment to store them in - and thanks to ARPA funding that can now happen.
"The ARPA funding and support from the county is absolutely critical. The community has always been supportive but utilities and other things are just getting more expensive, so this helps a lot," Scott noted.
Their allotted $121,000 will allow for additional HVAC drywall and temperature control for rooms that don't currently have them, prolonging the life span of the museum's historic residents.
She said, "You just can't dig up this kind of funding. The documents in this room and many of them are over 100 years old. The temperature fluctuations are major, It's very hot today. And when we have insulation up and the HVAC system, this space will be conducive to preservation for these documents really that benefit all of Cascade County."
Another museum that received funding is the CMR Museum at 400 13th Street North. They're using their $500,000 in ARPA funds to offer more displays, allowing for an additional building across from their current location to increase capacity by 25% telling even more stories through the art they display.
CMR museum director Tom Figarelle says there’s a lot of art in their vault waiting to be displayed and will be able to once the new building is finished.
He said, "I think the county commissioners really helped out with this process. It allowed organizations to be focused on their mission. Infrastructure dynamic of a museum is the fact you need gallery space and we're really blessed with generous areas where we can showcase our work, the work of Russell and other Western artists. But at the end of the day, we still have more art in our vault than we can put on display. We still have more shows that we'd like to bring in than we have space where we can accommodate them."
There's no final timeline yet for the projects, but they have until 2026 to be completed and get what they need to present more art and history to the community.
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