Montana Heritage Commission Montana Heritage CommissionDiscovering Montana

McFarland Curatorial Center

Ruth & Lee McFarland

Construction of the McFarland Curatorial Center was completed in 1999 as a major step toward caring for artifacts in Virginia City and Nevada City. This is a year-round facility for the storage, research, conservation, and interpretation of the extensive collection owned by the state. The building was made possible by a grant from Ruth McFarland in memory of her late husband, Lee Craig McFarland. The Commissioner's curatorial staff and volunteers are based in this building.

The curatorial center is managed by Janna Norby, Curator of Collections, who holds a Master's degree in American History and Museum Studies. She is assisted by Marge Antolik, seasonal interns and several dedicated volunteers. All levels of curatorial work in Virginia City and Nevada City are being done according to the highest and most current professional museum standards and practices. The storage space protects objects from adverse environmental conditions, including pest infestations; provides physical security and fire protection; and has archivally sound storage units and supplies. Some items are stored in open areas, some in boxes on shelves, some are hung vertically, and others are stored by specialized storage methods. The conservation laboratory has some but not all of the equipment that is needed for cleaning and stabilizing fragile historic artifacts.

The center operates under a Collections Management Plan that articulates the purpose of the collection and methods of achieving this purpose. It includes the following topics: scope of collections; acquisition policy; loan policies; access to artifacts; deaccession policies; conservation of artifacts; a housekeeping plan for the furnished building displays and other exhibits; inventory and record keeping procedures; access policies; insurance; reproduction and copyright; Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and other laws; education or research collection; and public disclosure.