by Else Trygstad-Burke (MA, 2016)
The mid summer “Hops and History” event at Museum of the Rockies reflects the community of Bozeman, Montana and the Museum’s refreshingly collaborative institutional culture. This particular event takes place at the Tinsley House, a historic homestead and now a living history farm, which moved to Bozeman from its original location in Willow Creek, Montana.
The living history farm provides an engaging outdoor environment to demonstrate the Museum’s rich Montana history content. “Hops and History” extends the farm’s visiting hours into the evening, and provides beer tastings from a local brewery and lectures on the history of brewing in Montana. To round out the evening’s festivities, a bluegrass duo performs before the lecture on the shady back porch of the Tinsley House while guests acquire their beer and enjoy the beautiful Montana evening.
During the first “Hops and History” event that I attended in Summer 2016, I saw a multitude of family friends, former teachers, and other acquaintances, further enhancing my view of Museum of the Rockies as a space for community gatherings and growth. The event, which is in its third year, has attracted a loyal crowd of local attendees, in addition to out-of-town visitors. This combination perfectly represents the Museum’s general audience, which consists of both Bozeman families and the tourists who flock to Southwest Montana each year, drawn by Yellowstone National Park and the natural beauty of the region. The Museum and the park both benefit from a multitude of visitors who wish to explore Montana’s past and present.
The Museum’s popularity also extends to its role as an educational centerpiece within the community. During the Friday children’s program that I helped to run, I always asked visiting families what they enjoyed the most at the Museum that day. The most common response is, “Oh, we come here all of the time,” followed by a description of their favorite area in the Museum. My impression thus far is that the Museum is a top choice for many Bozeman families for both entertainment and education. A highlight for me was when a preschooler who ran through the lobby oneeFriday shrieking, “I LOVE the Museum!”
The importance of Museum of the Rockies to the Bozeman community is apparent in its abundance of committed volunteers, many of whom were drawn to the Museum through their own visitor experiences. These men and women are passionate about the Museum’s exhibits and collection, and are also especially committed to the institution’s educational role.
Michelina Kazeminejad, who worked for many years doing cultural interpretation for the State Parks in California, expresses that when she and her husband first arrived in Bozeman many years ago, “This was the first place we came! It was a great day that we spent together. Yes, it attracts visitors from out of town and is associated with MSU, but it’s such a community based museum. Children are growing up at the museum, and we are jumpstarting their education. Museums have to remain relevant – we have to respond to our visitors.” Michelina’s perspective is reflective of the Museum’s overall institutional culture. Every staff member and volunteer at the Museum is intent upon providing visitors with a positive, enriching and fun visit! This civic goal visibly unites the staff and creates a wonderful atmosphere for both employees and visitors.
I hope that every museum professional has the opportunity someday to visit the Museum of the Rockies, and to witness this true community collaboration in action. The level of expertise at the Museum and its world class collections combined with the friendly, hardworking and fun-loving attitude that characterizes Montana and its inhabitants results in an institution that appeals to each and every one of its visitors.
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