When it opens in 2025, the Montana Heritage Center in Helena will explore Montana history from 12,000 years ago to the present day.
The museum will tell stories of our state's diverse cultures and geography.
The Montana Historical Society's $81 million expansion is designed as a destination spot for Montanans and for people around the world.
This past week, Helena celebrated an important development in its construction.
Historical Society Director Molly Kruckenberg welcomed NBC Montana to the 'topping out ceremony.'
"We'll place the last two structural beams of the Montana Heritage Center," she said. "We're marking a milestone in the construction of this building."
Molly oversaw a crowd from all over Montana to celebrate this major turning point.
The building is still a skeleton on Helena's landscape.
The 68,000 square foot expansion to the Montana Historical Society is still a work in progress.
Dignitaries like Governor Gianforte and Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins attended.
So did Montana philanthropists Dennis and Phyliss Washington.
The Historical Society is grateful for the Montana couple's generosity.
The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation contributed a whopping $25 million to the project.
The ceremony was flanked by a flatbed truck with the two huge beams marked by scores of signatures.
Schoolkids from all over the state, ordinary Montanans, ironworkers and the dignitaries signed their names to the beams before they were hoisted into the sky.
Crews were lifted into the air to the very top of the structure.
"Those are my boys up there," said ironworker Zachery Wolff. "I'm on the ground pointing fingers."
Every eye on the ground was transfixed on the ascent as the crews worked the beams into place.
"You get to see people on the street looking at you," said Zachery, " and you get a feel good feeling that you're able to do a job most people can't do."
On the beams were placed the Montana State Flag, the Ironworkers Union banner and a good luck evergreen tree, a symbol of the building's birth.
" It's nice to see it in the air after staring at it in drawings," said True North Steel project manager Jenna Chiono.
It was a day of pride for a job well done.
"I'm gonna' be able to walk by years down the road," said Zachery, " and say I had a hand in this project."
The structure is a stone's throw from the Montana State Capital.
"There are certain vantage points," said Cushing Terrell's lead architect Tony Houtz, " that are specifically set up to take in the view of the capital."
Tony said the museum will offer a breathtaking view of the Sleeping Giant, Helena's famous mountain.
The mountain and the landscape as a whole should remind visitors of Montana's topography in abstract.
"In the building, you'll see abstract geological formations," said Tony. "It's designed around the idea of glaciers and their movement in our state."
"Some of the different textures, stonework and colors," he said, " are integrated into the facility."
Where the building connects to the Historical Society building the architect will be flatter and softer, like Montana's vast plains.
Then everything changes.
The building will become bolder, more jagged, like Montana's Rocky Mountains.
"Jutting out like the mountains of Glacier," explained Montana Historical Society public information officer Eve Byron. "We want to show the two crashing together."
"To tie the culture," said Tony, " and the geography of all of Montana into one building."
The architects worked with the Montana Historical Society for years to make a vision reality.
It will have a 300 seat auditorium, an open terrace with views of the valley, and a gallery telling stories from the present to 12,000 years ago.
"Like a labyrinth," said Eve, " where we will weave together the stories of Montana."
"It is absolutely gonna' wow you," said Molly. " We will have a 16,000 square foot exhibit just about Montana history in general."
The stories are countless, from the Wooly mammoth to mountain man Jim Bridger.
"From our Native American inhabitants to the Chinese stories in Montana," said Molly, " to the Cornish stories of the miners."
"We've also spent a lot of time with American Indians in the state," said Tony, " and we're starting to weave that culture into and throughout the entire concept of the building."
"It makes me proud to be part of that," said the Blackfeet Nation's project delegate Smokey Rides At The Door.
Long before there was ever a Montana there were the Blackfeet.
"Our territory ranged from Edmonton, Alberta to the Yellowstone River to the mountains and to the North South Dakota border," said Smokey. "Along with the other tribes, it's very relevant we have a say as to how the presentations will be presented."
The Heritage Center will create more room for the current museum, which will be remodeled.
"Our Montana Homeland Gallery will be greatly expanded in our addition," said Eve, " and will be one of the highlights of the facility."
The Mackay Gallery of C.M. Russell Art is one of the most visited sites in the old museum.
When the Montana Heritage Center is completed it will double in size.
"There are more paintings and pieces that we can put out," said Molly. "We'll have 8,000 square feet of a new story of Charlie Russell, telling who he was as a person and how he influenced Montana and how Montana influenced him."
"Our collections and research materials have put us on the map for a very long time," she said. "But this is going to be a destination for those who want to learn about Montana history."
"They'll learn about who we are as Montanans," she said, "what our past is and who we are today."
From Montana's Capital City there are countless more stories of Montana history ready to be unveiled.