HELENA – The Montana Historical Society will officially be getting a new look, as the Department of Administration decided to remodel and add a connected building to create the new Montana Heritage Center.
The corner of 6th and Roberts will be the location for the new Heritage Center. This location is at the Capitol Complex and is on existing state-owned property.
The Historical Society says by keeping the history museum adjacent to the Capitol building it will make it easier for visitors to experience both Montana’s Museum and the capital together. Bruce Whittenberg, the Director of the Historical Society, says this location will provide more parking and other options for future expansion.
“One of the reason's this site was selected also was because it fit the Capitol Campus master plan for the 10 to 20-year time frame,” says Whittenberg. “Which allows for expansion of the Historical Society and improvement in parking, with parking garages and things like that on the campus. It fits very nicely. There is room for expansion, there is room for increased parking, so it's really a win win selection for all of us."
Four other sites were also considered including the Capital Hill Mall, which was torn down last year. The Historical Society says selecting any off-campus locations would have added significant additional costs.
Whittenberg says when this is all finished it will help modernize the visitor's experience.
“Technology will be incorporated into the facility in a much better way,” says Whittenberg. “The comfort and storage aspects of the buildings will be brought up to current standards. And it will just be a much more bright and airy impressive place for the people of Montana.”
The building committee is now tasked with moving the project into the design phase, and they have the first meeting sometime this month.
The project is expected to cost about $52 million. The 2019 Legislature passed an increased lodging tax to help pay for the project.