Local Museum Completes Comprehensive Assessment
Through A Federal Humanities Grant

June 30, 2020 by Ninepipes Museum

Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana completes collection preservation assessment activities funded through a grant award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Charlo, MT – The Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana was recently awarded a “Preservation Assistance for Small Institutions” grant in the amount of $5,775 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This grant spanned an 18-month period and allowed the museum to contract with Pat Roath of Specialty Museum Services out of Kalispell, to conduct a general preservation assessment of the institution’s 2000+ objects and cultural items.

“The assessment and completed facility and infrastructure updates are far reaching and have been a catalyst for enhanced preservation techniques and expanded local dialogue related to the cultures, items and history represented in the collection.” Dr. Suzanne Shope, Project Director and Collections Manager at Ninepipes Museum.

The assessment addressed short and long-term needs of objects and cultural items in the museum’s care and includes a 5-year conservation preventive plan. The grant also funded much needed storage and monitoring materials and culminated with a training and open house to share findings with board and staff, local museums and tribal members. The assessment serves as a comprehensive guide for future museum activities. Three additional grants were awarded by other sources to support the preliminary recommendations.

Jordan Bush, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, intern at the museum and a SKC Tribal Historic Preservation student comments, “The work of proper interpretation, communication with CSKT Cultural Committees, and the educational portion and how it pertains to the public within the museum impacted my knowledge the most and was the part I was passionate about as an intern. These steps within the museum highlighted the bridge between my knowledge from Tribal Historic Preservation studies and the knowledge and experience I have gained interning for the museum.”

Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation just 10 minutes south of Ronan and only 45 minutes north of Missoula on Hwy 93. 
It was founded in 1997 by Laurel and Bud Cheff, Jr. who had a strong desire to preserve the culture and history of early Montana and the Salish, Flathead and Pend d’Oreille tribes, though the museum cares for Native objects from across the Nation.  Bud was born and raised in the valley and shares Native and other cultural items and objects collected over a lifetime.  Many other residents and people around the nation have donated items over the last 20 years to make the museum a national treasure.

Jo Cheff, Executive Director of Ninepipes Museum stated at the onset, “We’re very excited, this is one important step needed to ensure good stewardship of our collections….

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965 and is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.  Grants typically go to cultural institutions such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television and radio stations, as well as to individual scholars.  The Endowment awards grants to top-rated proposals examined by a panel of independent, external reviewers and is highly competitive.  Applicants undergo four levels of review before a grant is officially supported.

We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Pat Roath and representatives from the Selis Qlispe Cultural Committee and the Kootenai Cultural Committee in order to fulfill our mission and move toward a safe, secure museum and a more accurate reflection of history. We are one step closer to ensuring these cultural items will be enjoyed by future generations.” Shope commented. Ninepipes Museum is one of 3 Montana institutions recently announced in December to receive an NEH grant. The Collection Needs Assessment report is available on our website https://ninepipesmuseum.org/news/neh-collections-needs-assessment/

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