2. Western Heritage Center (Billings, Montana)
Housed in a castle-looking, 1901 library, this Billings showpiece started as a community center that displayed Western artifacts. Today it is known for its blend of history and community outreach. Last year’s exhibits ranged from photography (“Photographing Montana 1894-1928: The World of Evelyn Cameron”) and paintings (“This Land is Your Land: Western Landscapes”) to two poignant histories: “Ben Steele Prisoner of War: Pen and Ink Illustrations” displayed the works of the Billings artist who survived the Bataan Death March and a POW camp during WWII, and “Coming Home: The Northern Cheyenne Odyssey” retold the story of the tribe’s journey back to their Montana homeland. Add in the ongoing American Indian Tribal Histories Project, and you understand why attendance for this Montana gem continues to increase.