Museum of the Rockies Gift Store Enhances Museum Experience with Educational Gifts

Cookbooks dating back to Montana’s pioneer days, toy dinosaurs modeled after those that roamed the eastern badlands, and hand-drawn maps of the Treasure State’s national parks are just a few of the gifts and souvenirs that the Museum of the Rockies’ store has on its shelves. The store carries many Montana-made and inspired items that aim to educate visitors and enhance their experiences at the Bozeman museum.

A college-level division of Montana State University and a Smithsonian affiliate, the Museum of the Rockies is an independent nonprofit that is renowned for its extensive collection of dinosaur fossils. In addition to the permanent exhibits, MOR brings in several changing exhibits each year and has a gift store, which serves as one of the major fundraising arms for the museum.

Having educational and engaging items in the gift store that promote learning is important to MOR’s store manager, John Olson.

“Every time visitors look at an item they bought in the gift store, they are reminded that they learned something about a dinosaur or had a good time visiting the Living History Farm,” Olson said. “People can relive their memories – it’s a learning experience they can take home with them.”

Xplorer Maps’ fine-art maps and puzzles of Montana, Glacier Park, and Yellowstone Park are a big hit among the local, national, and international visitors who frequent the gift store, Olson said. “Having the maps and puzzles really enhances the visit. They tell stories about Montana’s history and show what the state looks like.”

The puzzles are in great demand among the MSU students and student employees who work at the gift store, Olson said. Kevin Bell, a political science major at MSU and self-described “puzzle nerd,” was one of the students who first requested puzzles in the gift store.

A few of the employees and staff have collected the Montana, Glacier, and Yellowstone puzzles, put them together, framed them, and put them on their walls, Olson said. “With the culture we have here in Bozeman, it’s a very outdoor-centric audience, and they love maps.”

This year, the museum has seen an increasing number of visitors, many of them stopping by after having visited Glacier or Yellowstone. These visitors are immediately drawn to the national park maps, according to Alicia Thompson, MOR’s director of marketing.

“People want to have an engaging, authentic experience when they come to Montana,” Thompson said. “Xplorer Maps brings to life the flora, the fauna, the culture, and the history of our area and is something for visitors to take home. It is beautifully presented in the maps.”


Top photo caption: Kevin Bell, a political science major at Montana State University, an employee at the museum gift store, and a self-described "puzzle nerd," displays Xplorer Maps' Montana puzzle. Puzzles are in great demand at the store.