Wooly mammoth tusks, a bison jump diorama and a fascinating collection of Charlie Russell artwork are a few of the treasures to behold at the Montana Historical Society in Helena, as construction continues on the adjacent Montana Heritage Center.

Currently, contractors are installing 763 “rammed aggregate piers” in a grid pattern, which will reinforce the soil to limit any future settling of the building. The contractor uses a specialized auger-like piece of heavy equipment to drill holes, then other equipment fills and compacts them with gravel.

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“The installation should be completed this week,” noted Jennifer James, a consultant on the project. “The process does have some noise, and we appreciate everyone’s patience while we get these piers in place so that we can move forward with the foundation.”

 The Montana Historical Society remains open, including the museum, store, and research center. The galleries hold hundreds of exciting and unusual objects, some dating back thousands of years. The Historical Society also has re-opened the Original Governor’s Mansion for tours, after temporarily shuttering the facility due to the pandemic.

“We look forward to seeing our friends, members, and visitors this summer,” said MHS Director Molly Kruckenberg. “It’s been fairly quiet for the past year, so we used that time to open our new Portraits exhibit as well as maintain cleanliness standards to help control the spread of COVID-19.”

The exhibit “Who Speaks to You: Portraits from the Permanent Collection” is an eclectic combination of people and pets, each with a story. Examine the portraits to discover who speaks to you.

More than 80 art pieces by famed Cowboy Artist Charlie Russell reside in the 2,000-square-foot Mackay Gallery. They include major oils, watercolors, pen and inks, pencil sketches, bronzes, sculptures and illustrated letters.

The “Neither Empty Nor Unknown” gallery explores Montana in 1804-06, when the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery passed through what was neither empty nor uncharted wilderness. Flora, fauna, and Native nations are featured.

Each Monday through Aug. 2, the Last Chance Community Pow Wow offers fresh Indian frybread and tacos from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the MHS front lawn, along with Native drumming and dancing.

Hours for the museum are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, or $12 for families, with children entering for only $1. The Montana Historical Society is located at 225 No. Roberts St. in Helena.

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The Original Governor’s Mansion is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, through Sept. 15. It was built in 1918 at 304 No. Ewing in Helena and tours are offered on the hour from noon until 3 p.m. The cost is $4 per adult, $1 per child, and $10 per family. Closed holidays. To book a tour, call 406/444-4794 or email Anthony.schrillo@mt.gov

For more information, contact Eve Byron, MHS public information officer, at 406/444-6843 or eve.byron@mt.gov