The MonDak Gets A Makeover

If you have been in to the MonDak Heritage Center recently, you might have noticed construction workers milling around, signs notifying you of work being done in the lower level of the museum, or electricians up on ladders. Or maybe you noticed that upon entrance, the MonDak has a clean, bright new look.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, funds raised from the members of the MonDak and the assistance of Prairie Electric and Crescent Lighting, the MonDak Heritage Center now has new lighting in all of its galleries that safely illuminate the artwork and historical artifacts.

"We have rotating art exhibits about every two months," Kim Simmonds, Executive Director of the MonDak Heritage Center, said. "With our old lighting, which had been in place for over thirty years, our guests just weren't able to view the art the way it was meant to be seen. Now, and this can especially be seen on our large J.K. Ralston painting, the white light brings out colors and hues that we didn't see before with the yellow cast the lights were leaving."

The grant from the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development capped off the needed funds to complete the project. "We couldn't have completed the project without our grantor, and definitely not without the support of our members," Simmonds clarified. "Jason Nelson from Prairie Electric was so patient with us as we applied for grants and sifted through the lighting options. His diligence helped us get the best lighting possible for the museum, and it will last a long time."

In addition to the lighting upgrade, the MonDak has been working on updating some of the exhibits in the lower level. The gun exhibit, largely made up of guns donated by Roger Johnson of Fairview, is getting a complete makeover, including nearly floor to ceiling glass doors that will allow visitors to get up close with the beautiful firearms. Also in the works is an exhibit highlighting past Sidney resident and Montana State Governor Donald Nutter, as well as improvements to the fossil exhibits the museum used to showcase on the main level.

"Our fossil collection wasn't really interactive before," Simmonds explained. "We are trying to make it possible for our visitors to learn about what they are seeing rather than just reading a label with a scientific name on it."

The enhancements to the fossil exhibits come after a transformation of the dinosaur exhibit last summer. Bones from a Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops are currently on display, which were diligently identified last summer, by Thomas Linn of Glendive.

Other areas of the museum are getting spruced up as well. "With our new lighting, we really wanted to clean up the museum, make it fresh and new again," Simmonds said. New gallery walls were installed to improve how the art looks hung, and a fresh coat of paint was added to the front entry wall. Simmonds continued, "We've also cleaned up our gift shop, and we're working on getting new vendors and items that will appeal to a wider audience." Soon, she said, TV monitors will be installed on the front entry wall that will scroll through upcoming events, a donor list, and a wish list for the museum. Simmonds laughs, "As my predecessor often said, "There's always some going on at the MonDak!"

For more information please contact Kim at the MonDak Heritage Center, [email protected].


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