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Steering Committee Formed for New Historical Society History Center

Former First Lady Betty Babcock and former state attorney general and veteran legislator Joe Mazurek have agreed to co-chair the Montana History Center Steering Committee that is bringing people from across the state together in support of a new facility for the Montana Historical Society, Montana History Foundation Director Amy Sullivan said Friday.
“I have a passion for history as many Montanans do,? Babcock said. “The things our forefathers provided for us in the past must be saved and passed on to future generations. This new History Center will do that.?
Both Babcock and Mazurek said that the new History Center is a non-partisan venture that will help bring all Montanans together over the things they share as one people.
“I know with our own children we taught them the importance of our history as Montanans, and this land’s glorious and remarkable past,? Mazurek said. “History helps us be aware of and understand our different cultures and all that we share together.?
The Legislature will consider a proposal to acquire the current Capitol Hill Mall that has 250,000 sq. ft. of space on 13 acres of land that is a five-minute walk from the Capitol Building. This is an ideal location for the History Center.
Because of its interior design, the space is flexible and can be readily converted to museum exhibit space, research facilities, archive and artifact storage as well as classrooms, an auditorium and other public space.
“Our Montana collection of art, artifacts and research materials are the envy of the West, and this facility has the potential to meet long term goals and promote caring for and interpreting our history,? Montana Historical Society Director Arnold Olsen said.
Since there is limited land and parking availability in the Capitol Complex for a new History Center, Olsen said that the mall property presents a unique opportunity nearby.
“It reassures us that this effort is important with people like Betty Babcock and Joe Mazurek stepping forward to help get the job done,? Olsen said.
Babcock said using the existing property makes good economic sense because it would be cheaper than building a new facility and that the current Society building across from the Capitol could be used for other state office space. The present Society building is at capacity, she said.
“This allows us to work together as Montanans for an important cause such as having more room for showcasing the new, very valuable and popular Robert Scriver collection,? Babcock said.
“This is maybe a once in a generation opportunity to secure a property that will allow us to better display and show off the wonderful artifacts and art work that people from all across Montana have contributed over the years,? Mazurek said.
Both leaders agreed that the History Center would become an important focal point for the history and heritage of the entire state.
“Think of the thousands of school children who would come to it from across the state and learn how wonderful it is to be able to call yourself a Montanan,? Babcock said.
Olsen said the opportunity to consolidate into one complex will be more efficient for the Society and Montana citizens who use the museum, research center and other public programs and services.
“It also will be a very important economic development issue for tourism for the whole state as well,? Mazurek said. “History and art bring people to this state as well as our natural resources.?
The Legislature and the governor will decide the fate of this important project over the next few months, Sullivan said. The present owners have said that they must make a decision on the property soon.
The Montana History Foundation stands ready to seek support for the project from the people of Montana, Sullivan said.
“But it is critical to the success of the private fund raising efforts that we get a firm commitment that the project has the support of the state,? she said.
The steering committee urges people who support the project to contact their legislators to encourage their support, she said.

Posted by on 01/29 at 11:43 AM






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