Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art
Opened in 1977, the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art showcases contemporary art created by artists from Montana and the Northwest region. The collection consists of more than 800 works of art and also includes American Indian contemporary art, American self-taught art, and 234 sculptures created by self-taught artist Lee Steen. The museum is housed in the historic 1896 Great Falls Central High School building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the state's best-preserved schools dating to the late 19th century. It operated as high school from 1896 to 1930 and junior high school from 1930 and 1975. The building is named after Paris Gibson (1830-1920), the founder of Great Falls and one of Montana's prominent business and political figures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Architect William White designed the old school in the Romanesque Revival style.
Backstory and Context
By 1893, Great Falls was an established, prosperous community whose economy was driven by the thriving railroad and agricultural industries. The city decided to build a grand high school to not only provide a place for learning but to also project the city's optimism for the future. The Silver Panic of 1893 delayed the start of construction so the school was not finished until 1896. The building is large, boasting 45,000 square-feet of space and originally had an impressive four-sided clock tower, which was later removed twenty years later because it was too heavy. A new building was erected for the high school in 1930 and the old building became the Paris Gibson Junior High School. It closed in 1975 and the museum opened two years later. Since then, museum has been the main cultural and educational center in the county.
DeHaas, John N. et al. "Great Falls Central High School." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. September 1, 1976. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/929ccaae-11b4-4e3c-a8b9-f10f9621d409.
"History of the Square." Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art. Accessed July 30, 2020. https://www.the-square.org/history.
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Paris_Gibson_Square_Museum_of_Art