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Bats causing problems at Great Falls museum

Bats in the attic causing are problems at Paris Gibson Square
Posted at 11:01 AM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 13:03:25-04

GREAT FALLS — The Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art in Great Falls is home to a lot of art - but it’s also home to something you don’t see when you visit: bats. The museum is applying for a grant to deal with the problem.

"All of this is guano,” said Sarah Justice, director of Paris Gibson Square, pointing out bat guano in the museum’s attic.

Bat guano and urine are seemingly everywhere in the attic.

"This shows the damage on things that aren't covered over the years,” Justice said, pointing out urine and guano stains on an item stored in the attic. "They'll go into a warm area in the attic then they'll fly to a different area, wherever it's warmer. So they migrate within the attic."

Justice said the bats get in through small spaces in the roof and have been a problem for decades.

"We don't want any more structural damage to be done to this attic. This building is a historic landmark for Montana and Great Falls and it's important that we get this project taken care of so then we can potentially use this for other expansion within the institution over time,” Justice explained.

Paris GibsonSquare Museum of Art
Paris GibsonSquare Museum of Art

The project comes in two parts. The first is to hire a company to seal up the roof from the inside and the outside after the bats have left for the summer.

"We're on the flat part of the roof right now here at the Square, but you'll notice there's a deep, deep steep incline. A lot of peaks and valleys along where the terracotta color is, so all the ridge caps, the caps where all points meet, will be removed and then a really fine mesh will be coming down over the top of that to seal up any entry points for the bats to be able to get in,” Justice said. "Then, they'll be going inside and sealing up any quarter inch holes."

Part two is to remove everything from the attic and do a deep clean.

The museum has applied for a grant for more than $300,000 for the project and should find out in May of 2023 if the grant will be awarded.

One of the requirements of the grant, however, is the museum has to raise 20% of the grant amount.

Justice hopes when all of the money is counted from Give Great Falls Week currently underway - a week dedicated to raising money for non-profits - $6,000 will have been raised for the project.

Bats in the attic at Paris Gibson Square
Bats in the attic at Paris Gibson Square