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The History Museum in Great Falls is creating a 'visible vault'

Design will allow visitors to learn how artifacts are cared for
Visible vault wall
Visible Vault
Posted at 8:35 AM, May 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 17:01:29-04

GREAT FALLS — The vault at The History Museum has a wall of windows which are mostly covered up, but that will soon change as part of a large project to return the building back to its original state and increase the educational experience the museum provides.

"Here, you can see the blueprints for this project," museum director Kristi Scott said, gesturing to blueprints on a table.

Blueprints show what The History Museum in Great Falls will eventually look like.

Along with the change to the vault wall, a wall in the reading room will come down to create a larger education space.

"We're ready to up the ante as far as the educational opportunities that we're offering," Scott said.

She said making the vault wall see-through will help people understand how the museum takes care of artifacts.

"We're going to be relocating the furnace, exposing and restoring the windows, and then adding some really great furniture in here that will serve the artifacts better than what we currently have," Scott explained.

Visible vault wall
The vault wall (background) that will be made see-through

Archivists are working to document items that will be packed up in boxes and moved when work on the wall begins, including various items from the Anaconda Mining Company.

"It's quite interesting because not having been born here and coming from Oregon, I didn't know that much about the Anaconda Mining Company other than the stack and the pictures around town. So this way, I'm going to learn all kinds of intimate things," an archivist who was working to document the items said.

The vault wall isn't the first wall the museum has worked on.

"When we moved in, our reading room looked like this. We restored it by uncovering the exterior windows and that's what we plan to do in the vaulted area," referring to pictures on a wall in the museum that show what the reading room looked like before and after the work there was done.

Work is expected to begin on the vault wall in the summer.

The History Museum is at 422 Second Street South. For more information, call 406-452-3462, or click here to visit the website.

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