Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Museum in Hardin combines enterprise, artifacts, architecture to merge history with progress

An array of vintage buildings present visitors with a feeling of nostalgia, in Hardin, a town proud of its history. 




History is lovingly preserved in immaculate eye-catching displays.
Donors came through with contributions from personal archives and businesses.

NO ONE would expect to find such a grand and ambitious museum in a small town off the beaten path.
The museum's director and biggest booster, Diana Scheidt,
talks with Cookie as she tours her through the museum.
But there it is:  the Bighorn County Historical Museum and Visitor's Center, a proud testimony to community spunk, generosity, determination and imagination.
The Hardin, Montana, complex is a treasure trove of eye-catching artifacts, old buildings and personal effects from a lively farming community's perspective.
Old  meets new in the Big Horn County Historical Museum,
where the "wheel" of life is represented in full detail. 
MOVERS AND shakers with an eye for preservation take visitors back in time to a day of horse-drawn carriages, farming and forging a century ago, train travel in 1890, homesteading in 1912 and all that keeps a community going: church, doctor's office, post office, barns, schools and bunkhouses. There's even a 1933 filling station, mortuary and a barbershop.
AS YOU WALK through 24 historic structures on the museum's 35 acres, you glimpse a bygone era.
Hardin's rich history is brought to life through donated photographs and artifacts true to each period depicted. Donors dug deep into their pockets to put the museum on the map when it was established in 1979.
Cleverly, the beautiful, modern main building has featured exhibits including native son Will James, a Plains Indians display and  historic pieces of well preserved furniture, including a pipe organ. CONTEMPORARY glass work, pottery, jewelry and an array of books by Montana authors are nicely displayed.  Bits of Hardin's history blend with new art to please the eye.
Cabinets from the clerk and recorder's office form the attractive u-shaped counter in the gift shop.
Antiques -- from cars to a beautifully preserved pipe organ -- are on display.
A venerable safe from Sawyer's Store -- which survived more than one burglary before closing in 1965 -- found a loving home at the museum.
A beautifully restored tin ceiling graces the Visitor's Center, drawing the eye upward and paying homage to Big Horn Implement and Schoen's Auto Supply businesses.
A vintage light from Custer Park enhances the museum's foyer.
CASH REGISTERS, western wear, doors, desks, mirrors, lights, banisters, clocks, storage cabinets from a hardware store, an antique phone booth long before cell phones.... all speak to a community whose citizens have preserved a slice of life more than a century later.
Antiques and vintage photos are beautifully integrated in the Big Horn County
Historical Museum complex in Hardin.  It's a true treasure. 
An antique sink from the city's first hospital -- long ago condemned -- found a health related space in the museum -- installed in the women's restroom.
A Brunswick Bar from the Bighorn Saloon is perhaps the best preserved relic of bygone days.
THE MUSEUM complex offers a wonderland of heritage, history and imagination.  It's one of the most artful museums in a medium sized town -- Montana or beyond.
The Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge: elegant, historic, restful,
with fabulous food and pet-friendly digs to boot!
Scheidt says the museum is "a work in progress, continuing to develop." Adults pay $6 and seniors $5. Besides special programs, educational and private tours, the museum park area is available for special events such as family reunions and weddings, memorial services or unique gatherings of any kind where a feeling of history is desired. For more, go to 

UP NEXT: Wonderful  relaxation abounds at the Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge, where our wayfarers put down for  badly needed R&R.  What makes this unique Montana hotel such a sanctuary and treasure?  Find out at www.whereiscookie.com, where we promise lively looks at off-beat travel treats and treasures. Remember, carpe diem, so explore, learn and live and check us out each Wednesday and every weekend!

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