Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object

Objects from the past comprise the heart and soul of the Montana Historical Society. Individually, these items provide fascinating glimpses into the lives of earlier generations of Montanans. Together, however, the stories told by the hundreds of thousands of items that the Society holds in trust intertwine to form a rich tapestry illustrating our shared history. This online exhibit features only a few “appropriate, curious, and rare” gems from the Society’s vast collections. While each item is, in its own unique way, somehow outstanding, when considered together they help us better understand who we, as Montanans, are today, and how we got here.

Note: This exhibit is part of a larger effort that will include a book and educational materials devoted to the same topic. This project was made possible in part through funding provided the Cultural & Aesthetic Grant Program. The website’s title comes from an 1876 publication in which the eleven-year-old Historical Society of Montana states, in outlining its collection policy, “As this is the only cabinet of a permanent public society preserved for the whole Territory, it is hoped that whatever is appropriate, curious, and rare will be preserved therein, and no longer scattered abroad.”

Partial funding for this project was provided by Montana Cultural Trust.


Contributing Authors: Rich Aarstad, Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, Ellen Baumler, Jennifer Bottomly-O’looney, Laura Ferguson, Jodie Foley, Kate Hampton, Rowena Harrington, Roberta Jones-Wallace, Martha Kohl, Alex Kurki, Kirby Lambert, Susan R. Near, Maggie Ordon, Brian Shovers, Zoe Ann Stoltz, Tammy Troup, Amanda Streeter Trum, and Vic Reiman. Unless otherwise noted, photography by Tom Ferris with assistance from Kendra Newhall.