Curator's Corner Blog

Happy May Day!



May 1st, otherwise known as May Day, has been celebrated by Europeans and Americans for hundreds of years. In pre-Christian societies, May Day celebrated the rebirth and fertility that occurred during springtime. May Day celebrations originally sprang from the Roman festival honoring Floralia, the goddess of flowers. Over time May Day became a Christian-based holiday in which people would anonymously leave baskets of flowers on their neighbor’s doorsteps as a sign of goodwill and friendship.  Many European and American communities held May Day celebrations in which children danced around a tall, wooden maypole, often decorated with colorful ribbons. A maypole is visible in the photograph of a May Day celebration being held in Kalispell in 1913.


The May Day celebrations of nature and springtime are immortalized in American poet, Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s 1914 poem entitled “May-Day and Other Pieces, Song of Nature.” Below is an excerpt from Emmerson’s “May-Day.”

“Wreaths for the May! for happy Spring

 To-day shall all her dowry bring,

The love of kind, the joy, the grace,

Hymen of element and race,

Knowing well to celebrate

 With song and hue and star and state,

With tender light and youthful cheer,

The spousals of the new-born year.

 Spring is strong and virtuous

 Broad-sowing, cheerful, plenteous,

Quickening underneath the mould

Grains beyond the price of gold.

 So deep and large her bounties are,

That one broad, long midsummer day

Shall to the planet overpay

The ravage of a year of war.”

History of Arbor Day

History of Arbor Day When pioneers J. Sterling Morton and his wife came to the Nebraska Territory in 1854 they immediately planted trees, shrubs, and other vegetation in their new home. Morton became the editor at one of Nebraska’s best newspapers. ... Read more.

Happy Birthday Jefferson!

In celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s April 13th Birthday our HMFM interns wrote a short biography and found Jefferson within the HMFM Collections. On April 13, 1743 at Shadwell, Virginia Thomas Jefferson was born. Thomas Jefferson would grow up ... Read more.

House Call

Many of us take for granted the ease in which we can receive medical care in modern times. We can easily schedule an appointment at the doctor’s office and receive the care we need. If we have more urgent medical needs, there is urgent care or the ... Read more.

Gas Masks

With the onset of World War II many world leaders were concerned about chemical warfare becoming a factor in in the war. This fear led to massive manufacturing and distribution of various types of gas masks. The anxiety of chemical warfare came from ... Read more.

The Homestead Act and Westward Expansion.

  The wagon train is one of the iconic images of the Western part of the United States. Most great western films have the quintessential wagon train jerking through a flawless prairie heading west. There is a historical context to this perceptio ... Read more.

Artists Imprisoned: Italian Internees During WWII

This morning, I spent some time digging around in the basement of the museum. It was cold. White sheets covered antique mirrors, highboys, skis, a doll stroller. Bare light bulbs hung at the end of each row, casting shallow shadows on the concrete fl ... Read more.

Courage, Creativity, and Imagination: A Doll Story

  A couple weeks ago, I watched an episode of Museum Secrets while riding an old exercise bike in front of the TV on a rainy day. This particular episode explored the Imperial War Museum in London: the technological development of illusory army ... Read more.

A bike ride to celebrate America’s birthday…

A couple weeks ago, I headed up to Glacier National Park to bike the Going-to-the-Sun Road from Apgar Village to Logan Pass. My friend and I had planned the trip nearly two months beforehand, had taken time off from work, had tuned up our bikes, aire ... Read more.

The Flags over Iwo Jima: What’s Fort Missoula’s Connection?

This week, millions of American flags will be raised across the country to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence 238 years ago. As my own small tribute to the founding fathers, I decided to take a look at Fort Missoula’s collec ... Read more.

Discovering what it means to be a lookout! And more about Sliderock Lookout

This weekend, from June 27th through the 29th, Darby, Montana will be hosting the annual Forest Fire Lookout Association’s Western Regional Conference—perfect timing as we dive deeper into Fort Missoula’s own historic lookout with a real lookou ... Read more.