In a change of plans in light of loosening health restrictions, the Old Trail Museum in Choteau will be opening for an abbreviated summer season this year, from July 7 to Sept. 7.
“We’ve been working with the health department and have all the directives we need to follow to keep everyone safe,” said museum Director Julie Ameline.
Aside from the Ice Cream Parlor (which opened on May 15 this year), the main museum building will be the only other facility open on the museum complex; the carriage house, Jesse Gleason Art Studio, grizzly bear cabin and Blackfeet teepee are still closed to the public. The Schoolhouse also remains closed to private rentals. Ameline is the only person staffing the museum, and sanitizing all areas in the complex as often as required wouldn’t be possible for one person.
“I’ve been down here working to get ready through the months of May and June, and I had so many people stop by asking when the museum was opening,” she said. “I had people come here from Great Falls looking for something to do out of town, and they couldn’t come in. … I contacted other museums, and they’re all open, so I figured I could handle just having the one building open.”
The museum will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission is $2 a person, and children under 3 years old are free. Crowds at the museum will be kept to 10-15 people at a time. Large parties within the same household family will still be allowed to visit as one group. Facial masks will be available, and patrons will be asked to wear a mask if they are comfortable with doing so.
The museum board members and volunteers have been taking advantage of the time the museum was closed to make several improvements to the facilities, including rechinking the old cabin, completing a large sewer repair project, painting and putting up new siding.
They also did some work on the exhibits inside the museum. “While not being open, we’ve been working very hard to requisition old exhibits and build new ones,” said Ameline. “It’s looking really good in here.”
While interpretive tours of the Old North Trail remain canceled, Ameline said she expects the Wednesday night music concerts on the lawn behind the schoolhouse to resume sometime in July. She said musician Rich Clough of the Loose Mules told her his band is looking forward to playing, but they don’t have any dates scheduled quite yet.
“There aren’t too many things people can do right now, so having the museum open is one nice thing,” Ameline said. “I hope people come out and enjoy what we have to offer.”