Montana State Legislature

Montana Historical Society

The Montana Historical Society (MHS), authorized by 22-3-101, MCA, exists for the use, learning, culture, and enjoyment of the citizens of, and visitors to, the State of Montana. MHS acquires, preserves, and protects historical records, art, documents, photographs, museum objects, historical places, sites, and monuments. MHS maintains a historical museum, library, and archives; provides educational programs and services for teachers and the general public; and, publishes the state historical magazine, press books, and newsletter. MHS also administers the preservation and antiquities acts; supports commissions with state historical orientation; and, provides technical assistance to all Montana museums, historical societies, preservation programs, and owners of historic resources.

The Montana Historical Society provides the following services through a structure consisting of six programs:

  • Administration provides supervision and coordination for all programs of the MHS including: accounting, business management, financial reporting, museum store management, fundraising, marketing, membership, public information, and information technology. The Administration Program is also responsible for security, visitor services, and building management
  • Research Center Program staff collects, preserves, and provides access to historic collections, historical photos, historical records, state records, and books and other printed materials. The Research Center operates the MHS reference room, where staff assists the public in finding and using materials from the collections. The program has three sections: library, archives, and photograph archives
  • Museum Program staff collects, organizes, and preserves fine art, and historical, archeological and ethnological artifacts. They conduct research, produce exhibits, answer reference requests, Legislative Fiscal Division 3 of 8 November 2018 and provide technical assistance to other museums in the state. The Museum Program operates the Original Governor’s Mansion as an historic house museum
  • Publications Program staff plans, produces, publishes and promotes the quarterly production of Montana The Magazine of Western History, the state’s journal of record and includes new research in Montana and western history. The program also publishes books under the Montana Historical Society Press, the state’s only active academic press, which produces titles on the history of Montana and the northern plains
  • Education Program staff designs and conducts tours of the museum, State Capitol, and Original Governor’s Mansion; develop and implement a variety of public programs, including the annual Montana History Conference, manage the society-wide volunteer program, and administers the statewide National Register of Historic Places signs program. Additionally, the program produces curriculum resources for teachers including “hands on history” footlockers and the history textbook Montana: Stories of the Land
  • State Historic Preservation Program staff provides assistance to agencies, organizations, and individuals trying to preserve prehistoric sites and historic buildings and sites. They manage the National Register of Historic Places Program, archeology services, and cultural resource database, providing regulatory oversight to projects that impact cultural resources in the state. Staff also distributes federal historic preservation grants to communities throughout the state

Below is an organizational chart of MHS, including full-time employee (FTE) numbers and the HB 2 general fund expenditures and the total expenditures from all funds. Unless otherwise noted, all phone extensions are preceded by (406) 444.


This report includes a series of charts that compare expenditure growth to the growth in the economy and growth in inflation adjusted for population. Montana statute, 17-8-106, MCA, recommends using growth in personal income for comparison purposes. Personal income is a measure for growth in the economy. Comparing growth allows financial planners to consider past and future demands in services or changes in revenues.

Following a decline in spending from FY 2002 to FY 2005 in all funds, expenditure growth between FY 2005 and FY 2017 has generally grown at the same rate as inflation.  The following list discusses in more detail the inflection points on the charts:

  1. The Montana Historical Society received a one-time-only appropriation in FY 2014 for shelving in the archives storage area.  Expenditures on equipment totaled $402,000
  2. Legislators anticipated revenue shortfalls for FY 2017 through FY 2018 and reduced appropriations during the 2017 regular session and during a special session in November 2017.  The legislature approved decreases in general fund related to the 5% reduction plan and vacancy savings.  Additionally, SB 261 (2017 regular session) reduced general fund appropriations by approximately $609,000 in the Research Center in FY 2018

  1. In FY 2004 the Montana Historical Society expended $469,000 related to the library from its donations state special revenue fund.  These expenditures did not continue in FY 2005
  2. In FY 2008 appropriations from the accommodations tax state special revenue account ceased
  3. The 2011 Legislature passed HB 477, which permanently allocated 2.6% of the lodging facility use tax to the Montana Historical Society for historical interpretation and Scriver collection costs
  4. The legislature approved one-time-only general fund for archive storage in FY 2014
  5. In FY 2018 there was a reduction in general fund expenditures because of appropriation reductions approved by the legislature


Legislative Changes

2019 Legislature

  • The legislature passed SB 338, which provides a funding mechanism and the authority to construct a new Montana Heritage Center.  SB 388 established an increase of the sales tax on accommodations and campgrounds and maintained the sales tax rate on rental vehicles.  Until December 30, 2024, a portion of the revenue of the sales tax is to be distributed as follows: 20.0% for the construction of the Montana Heritage Center and 5.0% for historic preservation grants.  Starting January 1, 2025, a portion of the revenue of the sales tax is to be distributed as follows: 6.0% for the operation and maintenance of the Montana Heritage Center and 6.0% for historic preservation grants

2017 Legislature

  • SB 261 decreased the Montana Historical Society general fund appropriation by $1.2 million over the biennium.  The proprietary appropriation was increased by a like amount over the biennium.  State special revenue in the Museum Program increase by approximately $188,000 for the biennium

2015 Legislature

  • The legislature passed HB 487, which created two new accounts to receive revenues from the purchase of memberships to the Montana Historical Society and revenues received from tours of the Old Governor’s Mansion.  Revenue from membership fees is statutorily appropriated for the operation of the MHS and tour fees are appropriated for the maintenance, upkeep, and operations of the Old Governor’s Mansion.

2011 Legislature

  • The legislature approved $95,000 in the 2013 biennium as an ongoing, biennial, restricted appropriation for the care and conservation of artifacts. 
  • The legislature passed 477, which permanently allocates 2.6% of the lodging facility use tax to the agency for historical interpretation and the Scriver collection costs

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Audit Report

Financial Compliance Audit - Montana Historical Society - June 2019



HB 2

HB 13 and fiscal note and amendments

HB 95  Revise ethics laws related to confidentiality 

HB 135  Provide for interim committee review of agency rules prior to adoption

HB 159, Revise Governor’s power to spend certain unanticipated federal funds

SB 36  Code Commissioner bill

SB 57, Revising laws related to reports to the legislature

SB 110, Revise state employee and U-System health plan laws for temp state share holiday

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