May 28, 2021
The Carter County Museum is excited to announce the debut of “Shots Felt ‘Round the World: Maurice Hilleman and the Montana Origins of the Fight Against Pandemics” exhibition in the Central Schoolhouse Gallery on Main Street.
Considered by many to be the father of modern vaccines, Dr. Maurice Hilleman made it his life’s mission to eradicate childhood diseases. During his career, he created over 40 vaccines, including eight of the twelve commonly given to children today. He is credited with saving more than a billion lives around the globe. From his birth in Miles City to his time studying microbiology at Montana State College and beyond, Dr. Hilleman’s origins in Montana provided the foundation for his incredible work ethic and family values.
Despite his many accomplishments, Dr. Hilleman was a humble man and did not seek out recognition for his work. As such, few know of him or his contributions to the field of vaccines. “Shots” seeks to change that by re-establishing his connection to eastern Montana and inviting visitors to discover the process of scientific inquiry and vaccine development.
Drawing from a collection donated by the Hilleman Family to the Museum of the Rockies, the exhibition features panels about Hilleman’s early life and career, as well as broader histories of diseases in Montana including Smallpox, Measles, Mumps and Rubella, and the 1918 and COVID-19 pandemics. Four panels trace the history of vaccines, the work of Rocky Mountain Labs, and address skepticism and modern technologies. Two others are specific to Carter County History and draw from stories in Shifting Scenes and the Ekalaka Eagle. Clippings from other Montana newspapers and collections on Montana Memory Project help provide the local lens of the complex topic of public health.
The pop-up style exhibition was developed by CCM staff, including Sabre Moore who worked extensively with Dr. Robert Rydell at Montana State University on exhibition design and content development. Jenn Hall provided illustrations and Claire Jorgensen created graphic art, including the panel borders and the How Vaccines Work comic. Dr. Mark Jutila and Dr. Mark Young of Montana State University provided science oversight.
A companion K-12 curriculum, “Hilleman & Vaccines: Connecting Culture to Scientific Curiosity” provides in-depth information on Hilleman’s life and an educational disc of the documentary HILLEMAN: A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children. The Carter County Museum and Museum of the Rockies joined together to create the curriculum in fall of 2020 with the help of a MSU Outreach SEED grant. The curriculum was written by Sabre Moore, Sharon Carroll, Chioko Hammel, and Mardee Guyer and edited by Angie Weikert representing Museum of the Rockies. Additional lessons courtesy of the Office of Public Instruction address Indian Education for All subjects in relation to infectious disease and Montana’s Tribes. A pdf of the curriculum will be available on the CCM’s website in mid-June.
The Carter County Museum would like to thank the Museum of the Rockies and the Hilleman Family, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and the American Studies Program at Montana State University, Montana Newspapers, Montana Memory Project, the Carter County Geological Society and the generous donation of an anonymous donor for their support of this program.
For a virtual version of the exhibit with multimedia content visit: https://tinyurl.com/CCMShotsExhibit. A special program recording launching the virtual exhibit will premiere on the CCM’s Facebook and YouTube page on Friday, May 28 at 6:30 p.m.
“Shots” will be on display in the schoolhouse through October 1 then will go on the road to other rural communities. Another copy of the exhibition will be housed at the new Carter County Community Healthcare Facility and will remain in the community.