Kalispell is taking cultural opportunities to new heights for the Flathead Valley. You’ll find a multitude of music, museums, studios, galleries and art festivals everywhere you go.
Under the direction of Maestro John Zoltek the prestigious Glacier Symphony and Chorale brings a diverse concert series to the Flathead each season, showcasing world-class and emerging guests artists. GSC has grown rapidly in the last 25 years, and its reputation for excellence extends well beyond the borders of the Flathead Valley. The 75-voice Glacier Chorale, directed by James Stanard, complements the symphony with a rich repertoire of concerts, operettas and worldwide music selections. Every summer the Glacier Symphony heads outdoors for its annual Summer Pops concert. Concert-goers pack their picnic baskets and head to beautiful Rebecca Farm for an evening of symphonic music dipped in a star-studded Montana sunset. GSC is now in its 25th anniversary season. For more information about The Glacier Symphony and Chorale call 406-257-3241, ext. 2; or visit www.glaciersymphonychorale.org.
Originally built as Kalispell’s first public library with funding by Andrew Carnegie, this handsome turn-of-the century building has been home to the Hockaday Museum of Art since 1969. Its namesake, Hugh Hockaday (1892-1968) a successful commercial artist, came to the Flathead Valley with his parents in 1910 where they founded a cherry orchard on Hockaday Bay on Flathead Lake. After its conversion to an art gallery, the building was renamed the Hockaday Museum of Art to reflect its new primary focus on the art and culture of Montana and the artists of Glacier National Park. Besides its permanent collection by Montana artists, the Hockaday rotates exhibits of works by nationally renowned and emerging artists. Permanent exhibits include “Crown of the Continent: Glacier National Park,” spotlighting significant works by photographers and painters, along with collectibles and vintage maps featuring the rich art and history of the park. Throughout the year the museum offers classes and workshops for children and adults, along with outreach and artists-in-residence programs. Children can also enjoy hands-on activities in the Discovery Gallery. The Off the Wall Gallery offers a great selection of unique gifts, from pottery to jewelry, Montana art and history books, cards, T-shirts and artwork by the artists of the Flathead Valley. The Hockaday also hosts Northwest Montana’s largest and longest-running art fair, Arts in the Park, every year on the fourth weekend in July in Depot Park. The three-day juried art show attracts more than 100 artists from 12 states and Canada, along with wonderful food fare and great live entertainment. The Hockaday Museum of Art is centrally located at 302 Second Ave. E., across from the Flathead County Library in Kalispell. For more information, call 406-755-5268. Live music and theater is intrinsic to the Flathead Valley. Season after season, Kalispell welcomes top quality entertainment to its nightclubs, ballrooms and auditoriums. Visit www.hockadayartmuseum.org
In 1891, businessman Charles E. Conrad built a bank and founded a town at the site of the new Great Northern Railway division point – Kalispell. As part of his lasting legacy Conrad also built a beautiful home on the drive in Kalispell which bears his name. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Conrad Mansion stands as one of the most outstanding examples of luxurious living and period architecture in the Pacific Northwest. The 26 room, 13,000-square foot Norman-style mansion was completed in 1895. The mansion’s eight sandstone fireplaces, leaded, bottle, and Tiffany-style stained glass windows, and bedrooms, with imported marble lavatories, sleigh beds and canopied four-posters, appear today as they did when the Conrad family resided there. The house also features a dumbwaiter, built-in fire hoses, electronic call box communication system and Italian onyx drinking fountains. The Great Hall, with its massive native stone fireplace and golden oak staircase, frames a sweeping view of the hall from above. Here the Conrads’ legendary two-story Christmas tree towered, ablaze with hundreds of beeswax candles. The beautiful scene is re-created each October during “Christmas at the Mansion,” a three-day social event and Victorian holiday bazaar. The mansion is located on Fourth Street East, six blocks off Main Street, in Kalispell, and is open from May 15 to Oct. 15. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with tours leaving every hour through 4 p.m. For more information, call 406-755-2166 or visit www.conradmansion.com.
Built in 1894 as Kalispell’s first school, Central School served the Flathead’s educational needs for nearly a century. Today, the landmark four-story brick and stone structure’s hardwood floors, wainscoting and tin-plate ceilings are fully restored and home to the Museum at Central School. Here, you’ll discover the story of early Kalispell, from its founding in the late 1800s to turn-of the-century Demersville, and find one of the Northwest’s most extensive collections of authentic Indian artifacts, original paintings and photography, as well as a full-size tepee and lodge. The history of the logging industry is portrayed in the authentic 1900s-era sawmill and tools and vintage photos. Another permanent exhibit focuses on the history of the U.S. Forest Service. A new History of the Flathead exhibit is slated for early summer. For a snapshot of the Flathead Valley’s history there’s nothing like the museum. While visiting, try the Grand Central Coffee House’s freshly made soups, sandwiches, salads and baked goods. The Museum at Central is located at 124 Second Ave. E. in Kalispell. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday from June through September; and Tuesday through Friday from October to May. For more information, call 406-756-8381; or visit www.yourmuseum.org
For 15 years, the Glacier Jazz Stampede has rolled into town every October, wowing jazz enthusiasts with great performers from national festival circuits. All summer long a variety of musicians play the outdoor stage on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday afternoons at Kalispell’s Depot Park for the popular Picnic in the Park where locals relax and enjoy free live entertainment by the Northwest’s most talented musicians. Summer concerts series are also staged at Bigfork’s Riverbend Park and Columbia Falls’ Marantette Park.
In nearby Whitefish, the 300-seat O’Shaughnessy Cultural Arts Center is center stage for national and international performers, from the classical to the avant garde. The Whitefish Theatre Company stages superb drama, musicals and Black Curtain theater productions. The Alpine Theatre Project, now in its fourth season, is Montana’s exclusive professional Equity summer theater and draws top Broadway and Hollywood talent to the valley.