HELENA — Construction on the Montana Heritage Center in Helena is well underway. Over the past several weeks work has ramped up, with the removal of sewer lines and preparations for the new building's foundation.
Collect, preserve, interpret, and display stories that have shaped Montanans' lives and land - that is the mission of the Montana Historical Society (MHS). The Montana Heritage Center will allow MHS to house more exhibits and make one cohesive space.
“Our exhibits, our educational programs, our public programming, our research center, our historic preservation office, our publications offices so all of our functions will be housed in one location which much expanded and much improved spaces,” said Molly Kruckenberg, the MHS director.
So far, the construction has been focused on on-site preparation, but workers have now begun prepping the ground for a foundation. “We're installing 763 piers and their function is to stabilize the soil so that we can start the foundation work and so that will help with any sinking or settling of the building,” said Kruckenberg.
Kruckenberg says the creation of the Montana Heritage Center is not just to benefit the tourists that visit the Big Sky state but also for the residents to better understand the history of Montana.
"We are building a building that will be a community Center that will be welcoming to the residents of Helena and other residents of Montana, lots of public spaces where people can come and gather talk about our culture our heritage and all of the ways that we have things in common and things that are differences and how we can learn about our history together,” said Kruckenberg.
The MHS mission is also about finding the stories of Montana history and implementing them to resolve today’s problems. “How we can then use those stories to shape where we're going to go in the future so if there's social issues for example that are affecting us today would be increase important to understand how we got to this point and then that helps us understand how we can move forward in the future,” said Kruckenberg.
People interested in keeping up with the progress of the center can watch a livestream of the construction on the Montana Heritages website.
Kruckenberg says no weather-related delays have impacted construction.
The project is expected to cost more than $52 million dollars. Funding for the Montana Heritage Center was approved by the 2019 Legislature through a bed tax.