A treasure is defined by Merriam-Webster as “something that is very special, important or valuable.” Glacier County is home to a very special, and often undiscovered treasure – the Glacier County Historical Museum.
The museum was small when several local residents started it in 1980. Led by the late Mary Jane Moore and with the full support of the Glacier County Commissioners, they were determined to preserve history. Since that time, the museum has grown into a wonderful place full of historical treasures, all of which have been donated by many people.
“Much of our revenue funding comes from Glacier County, but we are an independent non-profit 501(c)3 organization, accountable to the IRS and registered with the State of Montana. The funding definitely makes it easier, but we need to come up with other ways to continue our mission to collect, preserve and interpret history,” said Betsy Seglem.
Betsy is helping her husband Dennis, who is the Director at the museum, by coordinating many of the fundraising activities and promoting the value of the museum and all it offers to Glacier County residents and visitors.
“Ideally, we want to be able to stand on our own financially. This is not easy, especially since we are in a rural area and the grants available are only for projects, not day-to-day operations,” she added.
Knowing that, the Seglems have come up with a number of fun, entertaining and interesting events the museum will be hosting. Their hope is that these new activities will not only provide the museum with some needed funds but get people in the door to learn more about this treasure of Glacier County.
Coming up on May 17, starting at 6:30 p.m., will be the next event called Game Night at the Museum, which will take place the third Friday of each month.
“We have a variety of great, fun, family-type games from way back in the 1920s to the 1960s, including Parcheesi, Backgammon, My Mother Sent Me to the Store, Auto Race and a host of other board and card games,” Betsy said. “Some of the games come complete with the old verbiage from that time, making them really fun.”
The added benefit is that while people are having a great time playing games, they are also learning.
“Our mission is to educate people on history and you can do that through these games. And at the same time, we are generating some revenue for the museum,” she added.
Betsy said the cost of joining in the fun of game night is $5 a person. There will also be concessions available for purchase during game night, so you can munch some popcorn while strategizing your next Backgammon move.
“Our hope is to take these fun game nights and eventually work into holding tournaments with different games,” Betsy said.
The first fundraiser the museum held was in April. It was a dinner night at the “1920s Club Café” where they served spaghetti for the pasta lovers and pork medallions with some wonderful sides for the meat lovers, all while listening to music from the 1920s.
“We had about 45 people come, which we thought was good for our first fundraising effort. We had some great volunteer help from the Glaciereens and we are hoping to hold three or four more of those over the summer,” said Betsy.
A date has yet to be determined for the next dinner night out at the museum.
Recently they hosted a Silent Movie Night at the museum. They showed two Charlie Chaplin “flicks” and both were a hit. “We are charging people for concessions, but not for coming in for the movie,” Betsy said.
Silent Movie Night will be held on the first Friday of each month and will start at 7 p.m.
“We are working on the next movie for June, so stay tuned. I am hoping we just might have Frankenstein come in time for Halloween in October,” she said.
All this fun, new-yet-old, entertainment is the Seglems way of “thinking outside the box,” said Betsy. “We have long realized we needed some event ideas in order to draw people out to the museum for the fun, for the education and for the fundraising.”
“The possibilities are endless for fun and educational history events at this museum. There are many ways to tell a story besides through traditional exhibits,” added Dennis.
The museum is planning a big membership drive in the next few weeks. “Watch for our website, which will be a place where people can find a listing of all our activities and is also the place where you can learn about becoming a museum member,” Betsy said.
“We will also be visiting with businesses about memberships and sending out letters to individuals and families about joining,” she added.
The cost is $30 for an individual, $50 for a family and business memberships can range anywhere from $100 to $500 or above. All of the memberships are tax deductible.
Along with needing members and people to join in the fundraising activities, the museum needs volunteers and a Volunteer Coordinator. “The Volunteer Coordinator would keep track of people and their preferred activities, call volunteers into action and coordinate with staff on events and projects,” Dennis said.
There is no funding available for summer lawn maintenance, so the museum is hoping there are volunteers out there willing to donate a few hours to help with gardening, lawn work, painting and some additional outside chores.
“We also need volunteers to cover for staff lunch hours from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” Betsy said. “There are so many ways people can volunteer at the museum, so if you are interested, just give the museum a call at 873-4904 or stop out and see what opportunities are available.”
The Glacier County Historical Museum is all about preserving the story of the people of Glacier County. “It isn’t just ‘stuff’ we have out at the museum, it is history, it is the story of the people who spent time here and helped build our communities,” Betsy said.
“The bottom line is the museum is here to collect, preserve and interpret the history of the residents of Glacier County and its surrounding area,” said Dennis.
“While our present operations have done well for the past 39 years, the time has come to move forward and tell stories in a multitude of ways which educate the public and also earn operational support. It is going to take a team of present and past residents to work together to keep our memories alive,” stated Dennis.
“We are running bare bones, but we are going to stay open. The museum will not be closing. The museum’s Board of Directors and staff will find a way, with your support, to make sure of that. And all the items we have at the museum will remain secure and well cared for,” shared Betsy.
For questions about the museum and its fundraising efforts, contact Dennis or Sara Strain at the museum or Betsy at 406-470-1621.
Starting Memorial Day, the museum is officially open for the summer with hours of operation being Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Labor Day.