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'It's a big deal:' Museum in Roundup gears up for opening day, boasts expansion

Musselshell Valley Historical Museum opens May 1
Fossils inside of the museum in Roundup
Posted at 8:24 PM, Apr 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-21 12:28:53-04

ROUNDUP — In Roundup, crowds will soon be drawn from far and wide to see exciting new additions to the Musselshell Valley Historical Museum.

And with the help of the Earth Sciences Foundation, the spot will soon be added to the Montana Dinosaur Trail.

Last summer, the museum began an expansion after filling up with antiques and fossils. That expansion is almost ready for the public—and those interested have the opportunity to see the new addition before the museum’s opening date on May 1.

 “Saturday the 22nd, Earth Day, we’re having our Early Bird Viewing for this foundation from 3-5. It’s a $10 ticket and you get to come in and see the museum before everybody else. And then at 5 o’clock, we’re going to lock the museum back up and then move everything to the community center in Roundup for dinner, social hour, silent auction, live auction, speakers, and whatever other trouble we can get into,” said Tom Hebert, the founder of Earth Sciences Foundation, on Thursday.

“It’s a big deal. We’re super excited about this. Not just because of the foundation and what we’re doing as an organization, but what it means to Roundup," he added.

Fundraiser poster
Fundraiser poster

All proceeds will benefit the Earth Science Foundation, the Roundup-based nonprofit founded by Hebert. 

Hebert started the nonprofit after his youngest daughter told him she wanted to “dig for dinosaurs”. He fell in love with paleontology and decided to switch gears—and careers.

"I looked at my soon-to-be new wife, and said ‘You know what, I’m done,’" Hebert told MTN News in October. "I used to own an insurance agency and said ‘I want to sell the agency, go back to school, and dig dinosaurs for a living,’ and she looked at me and said ‘It’s about time.’ So I went back to school and got a degree in geology.”

Now Hebert works to take people of all ages out on local fossil dig opportunities.

"We do digs and we take people out and let them actually experience the excitement of finding something. And then they can come to the museum, and when the signs are up in here it says, ‘Found by this person,’ and your name’s in the museum now,” Hebert said. “If they want to get into science, or your kid’s into rocks, or they like flying drones or making maps. They now have a place to come up to Roundup where we actually go in the field and do that stuff and give them hands-on experience and real-world applications.”

Tom Hebert
Tom Hebert

Because of those digs, the museum needed additional space to be able to house everything. While the expansion was being worked on, the museum worked with the Earth Science Foundation to get ready for a big presentation in Chinook this Saturday to attempt to get on the Montana Dinosaur Trail.

“We’re really excited about that opportunity, and we’re praying that we get on it because I know what it would mean to this community. And the area, both from an economic standpoint, but also just from a pride standpoint of, we’re Roundup," Hebert said. "We’re (hopefully going to be) on the Dinosaur Trail. We’re here. We are announcing our presence to the entire state of Montana that you can come here and have an amazing dinosaur experience now."

Norma Trent is a board member of the museum and said she is headed to Chinook this weekend to present why the museum should be added to the Montana Dinosaur Trail.

“I’m going to Chinook, and I’m going to try to get our museum on the Montana Dinosaur Trail," Trent said on Thursday. "And be a part of that wonderful trail that goes around Montana, so everyone can see dinosaurs."

Cottrell (left) Trent (right)
Cottrell (left) Trent (right)

Another museum board member, Serena Cottrell, is excited for a special anniversary this year at the museum, and she urges people to come in.

"This year the Musellshell Valley Historical Museum is celebrating its 50th year. We opened up April 28th and 29th back in 1973,” Cottrell said on Thursday. “You’ll have to come down and check it out.”

The foundation's chairman of the board of directors, Ladd Nelson, said he is excited to see the youth have opportunities that he didn't growing up.

"When I was little, I always enjoyed dinosaurs and reading about them, but I never had the opportunity to go to a museum like this. And with the digs that he’s going to be providing in the area, gives the kids something to do,” Ladd said on Thursday. “A lot of it is real-world finds coupled with things that spark the imagination. So it gives kids of all ages an opportunity to see what is out there and what’s possible, and get a chance to learn."

Ladd Nelson
Ladd Nelson

Other locals join in that excitement, like Joey Campanella, the co-founder of the James-Beard nominated restaurant “The Backporch”, located at 101 Main St. in Roundup.

“What Roundup needs, more than anything, is a resurgence of interest in all the cool stuff we’re doing here. Having cool restaurants, having dinosaur fossils, having flower farms and artist galleries and all kinds of things that makes Roundup so special,” Campanella said on Thursday. “The museum and all of the new, exciting dinosaur discoveries are just another great reminder that so much cool stuff is happening here."

Joey Campanella
Joey Campanella

It's a chance to bring even more to this up-and-coming Western town.

“We really need everybody to come (on Saturday). Participate, bid on the auction items, donate, go to the website," Hebert said. "Just help us out so we can continue to get people out to enjoy this and continue to develop this amazing museum here."

Hebert said the auction has a range of exciting items donated, like a Chicago Blackhawks signed jersey and tickets to a Cat-Griz football game.

"We’re going to have some amazing auction items," Hebert said.

Fossils inside of the museum in Roundup
Fossils inside of the museum in Roundup

To learn more about the Musselshell Valley Historical Museum, click here.

To learn more about the Earth Sciences Foundation or Saturday's event, click here.

“You know, there’s museums in (Harlowton), there’s stuff up in Winnett area, Jordan, you’ve got the whole dinosaur trail. Billings has got stuff and amenities that people can use," Hebert said. "So we’re really hoping to just bring excitement to this whole area, but specifically Roundup."