About and Museum History


About MOR

Museum of the Rockies (MOR) is a college-level division of Montana State University, a Smithsonian Affiliate, a repository for federal fossils, and an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution. It is recognized as one of the world's finest research and history museums and is renowned for displaying an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils, including a full-scale T. rex skeleton!

MOR delights members and visitors with changing exhibits from around the world, permanent indoor and outdoor regional history exhibits, planetarium shows, educational programs, insightful lectures, benefit events, and a museum store.

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, MOR is one of 1,070 museums to hold this distinction from the more than 33,000 museums nationwide. The museum is also a member of The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Travel Passport Program and the Montana Dinosaur Trail.

 

MOR History

Dr. Caroline McGill, a doctor from Butte, Montana, founded Museum of the Rockies in 1957. McGill worked in partnership with MSU’s President, Dr. Roland R. Renne, and with Dr. Merrill Burlingame, head of the history department, to establish the Museum. She also served as the Museum's first curator. Her gifts included an extraordinary collection of Montana historical objects that were first housed in three Quonset huts on the MSU campus. The Museum was originally named the McGill Museum.

A volunteer corps of around 30 townspeople helped organize the collection in these Quonset huts for the first few years. The Museum was officially incorporated in 1965 as the Museum of the Rockies. By 1970, MOR hired its first full-time director, Less Drew. He brought professionalism to MOR and oversaw the design and construction of the first two Museum buildings.

Mick Hager became the director in 1982 and had the vision to expand MOR. He hired Jack Horner as the curator of paleontology. In his nearly 34-year career at MOR, Mr. Horner established a world-class paleontology research facility and expanded the focus of the Museum to include one of the most important dinosaur fossil collections in the world. 

Sheldon McKamey began her work at MOR as our marketing professional in 1987. He became the executive director in 2003 and served until her retirement in September of 2018. During her tenure as the executive, Shelley led the renovation of our Taylor Planetarium and our Bair Lobby, kicked off our biggest benefit events, led the installation of our Hall of Horns and Teeth, led the renovation of the Martin Children's Discovery Center, and made the purchase of our Egg Mountain site possible. She worked with our staff to bring many changing exhibits to our community, including The Villas of Oplontis, King Tut, Frogs, Crocodiles, Guitars, and more. During her tenure, visitation doubled. The Curatorial Center for the Humanities was Shelley's way of rounding out a magnificent career. She worked diligently to secure funding for this building, which was built on budget, on schedule, and earned the LEED Gold certification for sustainable building practices.

On September of 2018, Christopher Dobbs joined MOR as it's executive director. He has joined us as a visionary leader, with more than 25 years of experience in museums – roles in exhibits, strategic planning, and management. Chris holds a masters degree in Museum studies. He comes to us from the Connecticut River Museum; before this, he served at the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea, and the Noah Webster House.

 

MOR Reviews

The Bozeman community and visitors show their appreciation for Museum of the Rockies:

  • Bozone’s Best of Bozeman Awards
    • Best Place for Kids' Activities: 2009 - 2018
    • Best Place for Family Fun: 2013 - 2018
  • Bozeman Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards
    • Best Museum/Historic Site: 2016 - 2018
    • Best Place to Take Your Kids: 2016 - 2018
    • 2nd Most Memorable Event in the Past Year: 2016 Wine & Culinary Classic
  • TripAdvisor
    • Top Things To Do In Bozeman
    • Certificate of Excellence: 2012 - 2018