Heritage and Research Center

Heritage & Research Center
The Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center houses Yellowstone's museum collection, archives, herbarium, and research library.



Yellowstone’s collections document the cultural and natural history of the world’s first national park and the conditions of its resources. The historic collections document the park from pre-history through the present. The collections include objects and written records that document the history and science of the park, changes in perception and meaning over time, and the interaction between people and nature. Specimens range from geologic and natural history to Native American and European American cultural materials.

It is National Park Service policy to collect, protect, preserve, provide access to, and use objects, specimens, and archival and manuscript collections to aid understanding and advance knowledge. Collections play important roles in resource management, research, and education programs, and function as baseline databases for park natural and cultural resources.

With several million items, Yellowstone has one of the largest collections in the National Park Service. Yellowstone National Park’s collections grow continuously with the addition of archival records (generated mostly by National Park Service staff), archeological and natural science objects.

Heritage and Research Center

For years, the collections were housed in various locations within and outside of the park, where they were frequently threatened by flood, fire, environmental degradation, theft, and inattention. With the opening of the Heritage and Research Center in 2005, the collections of “Wonderland” are finally housed together, with the exception of the historic vehicles, and their storage brought up to the standards demanded by the National Park Service, the American Alliance of Museums, and the National Archives and Records Administration.

The facility includes:

  • Temporary and Traveling Exhibits: The main and upper floor lobbies include small changing exhibits for public viewing. Topics vary from history, culture, art, and natural history. Current exhibits include:
    • A Window into Yellowstone’s Wonders: 150 Years of Collecting in the First National Park: This exhibit offers highlights from the museum, archives, and library collections documenting 150 years of Yellowstone and 150 years of documenting and preserving the story of Yellowstone through heritage collections.
    • Through the Eyes of a Master: Thomas Moran's 1871 Field Sketches. A small selection of watercolor sketches (high-quality reproductions) done by artist Thomas Moran during the 1871 Hayden Expedition through what would become Yellowstone National Park. Previously displayed in the Albright Visitor Center.
    • Thomas Moran's oil paintings, "The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" and "The Chasm of the Colorado" anchor the exhibit Thomas Moran and the 'Big Picture' at the Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.
  • Tours: Free public behind-the-scenes tours are offered on Wednesdays from 4:00-5:00 PM between Memorial Day (May 30) and Labor Day (Sept. 5). Space is limited, please call 307-344-2264 or email e-mail us to register.
  • Museum Collection
  • Archives
  • Research Library
  • Herbarium
  • Archeology Lab


Located at 20 Old Yellowstone Trail, Gardiner, Montana

The building is open: Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm

Note: The Heritage and Research Center will be closed Wednesday, February 21 2024.

Closed federal holidays and the following dates:
January 15
February 19, 21
May 27
July 4
September 2
October 9, 13
November 9-10, 23-24
December 25-January 1

Collections Research

Researchers range from students working on term papers to tourists re-tracing an ancestor’s visit, and from park staff developing education programs or researching climate change to filmmakers preparing a miniseries for PBS.

Researchers are encouraged to complete their preliminary research before approaching the specialized holdings of Yellowstone National Park. Access to materials is dependent upon staff availability, the condition of the materials, and the level of cataloging completed. All research must be done on-site.

Online Collections

Selected portions of our records have been digitized and placed online. This is an ongoing project.

  • Montana Memory Project: Collections include Superintendent's Annual and Monthly reports, maps and drawings, oral histories, and photographs.
  • Open Parks Network: Historic photographs taken by the Park's official photographers and gathered together into thematic albums in the mid-20th century.
  • Historic Slide File: Historic photographs from the museum collection organized by era and then by topic.
  • NPS Technical Information Center: Historic maps and architectural drawings, and related construction reports for all parks in the National Park Service. Use the Search Filters button to select Yellowstone.
  • In the Shadow of the Arch: The Heritage and Research Center's blog is used to highlight collections within the Museum, Archives, and Library.

Contact Us

For information about the Heritage and Research Center building, please call 307-344-2662

For general park information, please call 307-344-7381

Three park employees removing native fish from a transport container.
Science & Research

Explore the endeavors that enhance our knowledge of the region and inform preservation decisions.

Three uniformed park employees testing telemetry gear in a meadow.
Yellowstone Center for Resources

Scientific efforts underway in Yellowstone National Park.

Stones piled in a formation in the forest
Park History

Learn about Yellowstone's story from the earliest humans to today.

Last updated: February 20, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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