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Museum of the Rockies Gift


West Yellowstone residentâs donation to Museum of the Rockies
October 12th 2009 

Eleanor Hamilton Povah collection extensive
Officials at the Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University, Bozeman, and 
representatives for Eleanor Hamilton Povah of West Yellowstone, Montana, 
announced that the Hamilton Povah collection will be staying in Montana.

Povah is the daughter of Charles A. Hamilton, founder of the Hamilton Store 
chain that operated in Yellowstone National Park from 1915 through 2002. She 
and her deceased husband, Trevor Povah, assumed the operation of Hamilton 
Stores and ran the company for many years. During their long involvement with 
the park, the Hamilton and Povah families acquired a unique and valuable 
collection related to the history of the Yellowstone area. 

More than 1,000 items from Hamilton Povah Collection are being donated. They 
include vehicles associated with the familiesâ business operations in 
Yellowstone, items from the stores themselves and Native American objects that 
would have been representational of inventory in the stores. Among the vehicles 
are an authentic Yellowstone bus, a 1941 Lincoln Zephyr and a horse-drawn oil 

Povah said it was important to keep the collection together in a location 
associated with Yellowstone National Park, rather than have the items sold 
individually at auction.

âItâs a matter of keeping something together that we spent a lifetime putting 
together,â Povah said.

Sheldon McKamey, museum dean and director, said, âThe collection itself is 
extensive but Mrs. Povahâs generosity didnât stop there. She is also providing 
a substantial financial gift to support the curation and interpretation of the 
collection which makes it possible for us to accept it.

âWe are delighted the collection is staying in Montana,â McKamey continued. 
âThis collection tells an important story about Montana. For it to be gifted to 
the Museum of the Rockies and being able to show it in context with the area we 
live is very significant for us.â

The collection complements MSUâs intention to be known as the University of the 
Yellowstone, McKamey said, adding that âCurrently MSUâs focus has been based on 
scientific research in the Yellowstone ecosystem, but this collection will help 
us better understand the areaâs cultural history.â

Museum Curator of History Michael Fox said the museum will use the collection 
as the basis for a long-term multi-disciplinary project to interpret the 
history and legacy of the Hamilton and Povah families and their contributions 
to the cultural development of Yellowstone National Park. 

âThe Hamilton Stores name became synonymous with hospitality and visitor 
services within Yellowstone National Park and continues to be recognized as a 
pioneering business whose influence is seen in mercantile operations throughout 
the National Park System. The ways in which the administration, development and 
interpretation of the Park were influenced and affected by the families and 
their businesses will also be the subject of study,â Fox said.

A full-scale exhibit of the collection is planned at the Museum of the Rockies 
within the next five years and traveling rental and/or on-line exhibits are 
possible. Isolated objects from the collection will be displayed as soon as 
they are catalogued and conserved. Artifacts from the collection would be 
available to researchers and historians including students at MSU and objects 
could be loaned to other qualified institutions. 

Financial support from Povah will be used as a match in securing federal 
support for the collection and fundraising from private donors and foundations 
will be ongoing.

The Museum of the Rockies began as a history museum in 1957 with the gift of 
Dr. Caroline McGillâs collection. Today, the museum stewards nearly 300,000 
objects and 500 million years of history. One of the finest paleontology 
collections in North America is found under the museumâs roof, along with 
strong core collections in western history, textiles, Native American 
artifacts, and photography.

For more information about the Museum of the Rockies and plans for the Hamilton 
Povah collection, log onto www.museumoftherockies.org