Great Falls is rich in arts offerings, from live music and entertainment to special events. “Our community has museums and interpretive centers that beautifully depict the history and character of the region,” Mayor Bob Kelly says. “Our symphony has hosted Yo-Yo Ma, Midori and Itzhak Perlman.”
Home to 10 distinct museums, Great Falls is Montana’s Museum Capital. Works of art by the late resident and artist Charlie Russell capture the spirit of Great Falls and the surrounding area, and the CM Russell Museum has been called Montana’s “best museum worth traveling for.”
“One of the greatest painters the country has ever known, [Russell] lived the history of the West,” says Mark Robinson, the museum’s marketing director. “It’s almost like recorded history. His house and studio are still part of the museum complex, and he was the highest-paid artist of his time; one piece sold for $5.6 million.”
The 25,000-sq. ft. Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center contains North America’s most extensive depiction of the expedition, with interactive displays and special attention to their portage around this area’s many waterfalls. “The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center hosts approximately 50,000 people per year, making it the most popular museum/interpretive center in central Montana,” Nelson says.
The Paris Gibson Museum of Art fills a historical building with contemporary art. Round out your museum experience at the Children’s Museum of Montana, Malmstrom Air Force Base Museum and Air Park, History Museum, Gallerie Trinitas, Ursuline Center, Brother Van House Museum, the Montana Veterans Memorial, the Montana Museum of Railroad History, and the Mehmke Steam Tractor Museum.
Great Falls’ rich tapestry of music and culture includes Metis Indian Fiddlers, Blackfeet drummers, blues, and Irish and world-class symphonic music. Enjoy Municipal Band summer concerts in Gibson Park, and world-class performances at the intimate Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts, home of the Great Falls Symphony. In the heart of downtown, The Mansfield hosts shows, productions, concerts, and performances, year-round.
“We have a pretty tremendous nightlife, from Broadway plays to local theater groups to more non-traditional expressive entertainment,” local musician Schalper says. “Our art scene is very powerful, too. Our First Friday art walk has classics to western to contemporary art…and most venues include live music.” Great Falls also has a number of local microbreweries that support live entertainment, she adds.