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Montana Heritage Commission
McFarland Curatorial Center

The McFarland Curatorial Center maintains collections from Virginia and Nevada Cities, Montana and Reeders's Alley in Helena, Montana. The Collections Department located in the McFarland Curatorial Center in Virginia City has two on-site caretakers responsible for the more than one million objects housed in the 248 historic buildings. It is the responsibility of the Curatorial Staff to manage the objects long-term physical well-being and safety. Care is taken to preserve the artifacts in their current environment but active use of objects has adverse effects, so some are moved to a secure storage area at the McFarland Curatorial Center. Each object must be identified, documented, and actively stabilized using current museum standards of care. It is a slow but very important process. Dirt, debris and damage are not "patina" or "historic character" and we are removing these dangers, but it takes time, money and people.

The objects in the VC and NC collections are irreplaceable, as historic value has no monetary equivalent. Whether you see a single artifact that is rare, like the Gypsy Verbal Fortune Teller or a diverse collection, such as the 100+ music and arcade machines throughout the site, each object is a part of history and needs the appropriate attention. Through research we gain greater understanding of our past and the cultures in which the objects were created. If you would like to become involved as a volunteer or benefactor in the historic collections in Virginia and Nevada Cities, please call 406-843-5247 ext. 209 for Marge Antolik, Assistant Curator or ext. 204 for Kate Slawski, Museum Technician.

This online database is a work in progress and will be updated periodically. We hope you enjoy viewing the Montana Heritage Comission's digital collection.

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Tips for Searching

Keyword Search

The Keyword Search button allows you to perform a general search across multiple fields for any catalog records online. Keyword searches use OR as the default connector between words (e.g. a search for Hanley Ranch will return records associated with Hanley OR Ranch). If you want to find records where both keywords are found, type in AND between the two words. To search for a specific phrase, be sure to put the phrase within quotes (e.g. "Rocky Pine Ranch"). You can also use the asterisk (*) as a wildcard (e.g. a search for histor* would come up with records containing history, histories, historical, etc.). Searches are not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search button can help you be more specific with your search. You can search for a word or phrase within a particular search category or use multiple categories to further narrow down your search results. For example, searching White in the People field will bring up any records associated with a member of the White family, without having to sift through black & white photographs. You can also search People and Creator records through Advanced Search. Phrase searching with quotes and use of wildcards (*) are available in Advanced Search.

Random Images

The Random Images button is a great way to just browse the collection. Each Random Images page displays a random assortment of images from the records online. If something piques your interest, click the thumbnail to view a larger version of the image.

Catalog Searches (Archives / Photos / Libraries / Objects)

The catalog buttons can also help narrow down your search, by only searching with a selected catalog. If you only want to search for Photos, click the Photos button and type in your keyword(s) or phrase. You can also browse records within that catalog without performing a search. Phrase searching, wildcards (*) as well as AND/OR statements are available when performing catalog searches.