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:
    • Archeology on Ice. A traveling exhibit from the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. This traveling exhibition describes the emerging discipline of Glacial Archeology and the unique archeological discoveries found in melting ancient ice in Alaska, Montana, and other northern climates.
    • Through the Eyes of a Master: Thomas Moran's 1871 Field Sketches. 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.
  • Museum Collection
  • Archives
  • Research Library
  • Herbarium
  • Archeology Lab


Located at 20 Old Yellowstone Trail, Gardiner, Montana

The building is open:
Summer (June 15-Labor Day): Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm
Winter: Monday-Thursday, 9am-4pm

Closed federal holidays and the following dates:
July 5
July 29
Sept. 6
Oct. 11
Nov. 11
Nov. 25-26
Dec. 24-Jan.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.

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: June 3, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park , WY 82190-0168



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