Exhibitions

The exhibits are constantly changing in the Carter County Museum, because we have many more objects and specimens than we can can display at once. Although the all time favorites are always on display, like the two-headed calf or the real mounted Anatotitan skeleton, other exhibits are on rotation. Thanks to the help of a great staff, community volunteers, and SCOPE students from Montana State University, our exhibits are steadily being refreshed. Whether it’s a new American Indian artifact exhibit, or a 35-foot mosasaur hanging from the ceiling, you never know what new corner of the museum you’ll discover next.

Shots Felt Round the World: Maurice Hilleman and the Montana Origins of the Fight Against Pandemics

Designed and produced on-site at the Carter County Museum in Ekalaka, Montana, the exhibition “Shots Felt ‘Round the World: Maurice Hilleman and the Montana Origins of the Fight Against Pandemics” provides historical context for the subjects of vaccines, infectious disease, and healthcare. Visitors are invited to discover the process of scientific inquiry and vaccine development through the inspiring life of Dr. Maurice Hilleman, who was born in Miles City, and laid the foundation for the modern fight against pandemic disease. The exhibition will open Memorial Day Weekend of 2021 in the Central Schoolhouse Gallery at Carter County Museum. It will be on display through October 2021.

A special virtual exhibition opening will be held on our Facebook page on May 28 at 6:30 p.m. MST. A recording will be available on our YouTube channel after the event. You can view the virtual version of the exhibition on our Matterport page at: https://tinyurl.com/CCMShotsExhibit.

The CCM would like to thank the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the Museum of the Rockies and the American Studies program at Montana State University for research support of this exhibition, as well as an anonymous donor for their contribution to the museum.

Lambert Room

Ekalaka has been an epicenter of dinosaur discoveries for the last century and continues to be a source of scientific discovery to this day. The exhibits of the Lambert Room include a mounted skeleton of the duckbill dinosaur Anatotitan copei (one of a few nearly complete specimens of its kind) as well as a complete skull of Triceratops. The badlands around Ekalaka have also produced pachycephalosaurs, pterosaurs, tyrannosaurs, and ankylosaurs. Notably, both the first known as well as the most complete juvenile T. rex have been found here, fueling much of what we know about how these animals grew. Mounts and casts of all of these are on display along with countless other real dinosaur bones.

Carter County has more than just dinosaurs, however. Exhibits also display the bones of sea reptiles and the shells of ammonites from when the Pierre Sea covered the midwest of North America. The Fort Union Formation records life after the dinosaurs, a landscape becoming increasingly dominated by small mammals. The Arikaree Formation and Pleistocene channel fill record the later arrival and origination of large mammals, like brontotheres and mammoths.

Regional History

In the spring of 1881, David Russell and his wife Ijakalaka — an Ogalala Sioux — moved to eastern Montana and began a family. In 1885, a town had grown up near their ranch and was named Ekalaka, spelled phonetically for the ease of visitors. The Carter County Museum tells the story of the presence of American Indians in this area which goes back far more than the 1880s. This area has been home to several tribes, including the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Mandan/Hidatsa, Lakota (Sioux), and Assiniboine and extends back to the Pleistocene era with the Mill Iron Site. On exhibit we have beadwork, pottery, hunting and gathering tools as well as other items that illustrate a livelihood and enduring traditions that continue today.

As the homesteaders moved into the area their possessions traveled across the prairie with them. The exhibits here at the CCM reflect the numerous donations that have been made by the residents of Carter County, telling a story that stretches back to the late 1800s. That story is told in garments, tools, guns, saddles, branding irons and more.

With the formation of Carter County in 1917, many of county’s sons and daughters have answered the call of their country and marched off to war, some never to return. The purpose of the Veteren’s Room is to tell their story in some small way. Each display within the Veteran’s room depicts an era of our country’s call to duty, beginning with the Indian Wars in the mid 1800′s to Desert Storm, complete with many of the uniforms, accoutrements, and memorabilia of the experience.

Tooke Bucking Horses Permanent Exhibit

Bill Carlisle off a grandson to Snowflake in Ekalaka in 1969.

A lifelong horseman, Feek came up with the idea to cross Shires with Thoroughbreds after purchasing Pat O’Kane’s horses in 1936. In 1938, he bought a shire stallion and mares and then added King Larrygo to the herd in 1943. Their breeding program was the first of its kind and pioneered the bucking horse stock industry. Over 6,000 bucking horses have been produced from Tooke stock, including 80 percent of the horses selected for the NFR. Today, bronc match rides and the world famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale can trace their inspiration back to Feek Tooke. The company continues to produce award winning stock and operates outside of Ekalaka, Montana. Donated by the Tooke family, the Tooke Bucking Horse collection contains plaques, Hall of Fame and other trophies, branding irons and the rubber flank cinch – a Feek Tooke invention that is still used for bucking horse stock today.  Photographs from the collection are available to view on the Montana Memory Project at: http://mtmemory.org/digital/collection/p16013coll135

In 2017, Carter County Museum partnered with Ken Howie Studios and the Tooke Family for the Feek’s Vision documentary project to tell this remarkable, old west story of ingenuity and hard work so that others may learn Feek Tooke’s contribution to history and its roots in Ekalaka, Montana. Previews of Feek’s Vision were held in Las Vegas, Nevada at the National Finals Rodeo and in Ekalaka in 2018. The film clips are available to view here:

For more information on the film and to pre-order a DVD, please visit feeksvision.com. For an informational packet on the exhibition and donor opportunities, please contact Sabre Moore at smoore@cartercountymuseum.org.