Collections & Archives

Artifact Collection

The main body of artifacts at Ravalli County Museum has been donated over 60+ years. Many pioneer families have contributed to the collection. Early historical society member Henry Grant, affectionately known locally as “Mr. Bitterroot,” collected and donated numerous early Bitterroot objects. Artifacts from local Native American tribes – the Salish, Kootenai and Nez Perce – comprise a permanent exhibit.

The Museum’s collection also includes the work of regional photographer Ernst Peterson; objects from an early fraternal organization; a wood hand tool collection; agricultural implements; military uniforms and accessories; portraits and paintings; numerous Victorian era household fixtures; dry goods; and vintage clothing.

For questions about Archival Research, please send an email to

We love interest in donations of objects! We strive to provide each object in our collection the best storage and exhibition conditions, which limits the number of items we can accept and store correctly. Please call or email the Museum to schedule a time to bring in your object. This will insure that our collections personnel will be available on the day you visit, and can give you an assessment about whether or not the Museum can accept your object into the collection.

Important Note: the process of donating items to the Museum’s collection is different from donating antiques and collectibles to the Museum’s annual auction used for fundraising purposed. Museum collections are NEVER included in our auctions or sales of antiques and collectibles – sale items are collected separately from individuals who donate for the specific purpose of supporting the Museum’s fundraiser. 


Ravalli County Museum houses a variety of archival material suited to the needs of researchers. Resources include a vast newspaper collection dating to the late 1800s, a Vertical File of local interest topics and obituaries, and a card catalog, accessible via a searchable database. Other archive materials include original documents, certificates, contracts, correspondence, deeds, magazines, maps, historic photos and photo albums, pamphlets, scrapbooks, genealogical sources, a Hamilton Architectural Survey, and a non-lending library of books and publications of regional interest.

Book an appointment with our archivists:

View fees associated with research assistance.

Become a member for reduced research assistance fees.

It is the policy of the Bitter Root Valley Historical Society and the Ravalli County Museum to acquire, through purchase, gift or loan, a collection of artifacts and related materials that reflect the historical and cultural heritage of the Bitter Root Valley and its people.

Purpose: The purpose of the collection is to secure, preserve, interpret, and conserve historical and cultural artifacts and archival information, making those items available for viewing and research by the public.

The Museum’s collection shall be limited to material which directly or indirectly relates to the local history, the natural history and/or the art and culture of the Bitter Root Valley. 

Donated Items: Donated items considered for accession will be conditionally accepted and documented per the BRVHS Accessions Policies & Procedures.

Gifts: Donated items not suitable for collections may be received as gifts and treated under the BRVHS Gift Acceptance Policy.

Loans: Items offered or solicited as loans shall be accessioned and documented appropriately, as per BRVHS Loan Acceptance Policy. Loaned items are to be treated with the same care as other items within the collection.

Confidentiality: All information concerning donors is confidential. No information shall be released to the general public without securing the prior permission of the donor. Donors may request to be anonymous and will not be listed, nor will their names be provided beyond the Bitter Root Valley Historical Society staff and Board.

This policy shall be reviewed and revised as necessary to remain consistent with the mission of the Ravalli County Museum.