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Big Sky Connection

Montana's historical photos get a chance to shine on the internet with the state's third annual meme contest. May is historic preservation month. Comments from Jennifer Birnel, director, Montana Memory Project.


Click on the image for the audio. The image, above, was made by Kirby Lambert, one of the winners of the first Montana meme photo contest in 2020. (Montana Memory Project) 

Eric Tegethoff 

May 2, 2022

The Montana historical meme contest is back and history has never felt so relevant in the internet age.

The Montana State Library began the contest in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Participants get to sift through the Montana Memory Project's 35,000 photos to create fun images out of history.

Jennifer Birnel, director of Montana Memory Project, said the contest is an opportunity for people to learn more about the state.

"We want people to understand the depth of our history - as well as our culture," said Birnel. "So both of those things play a big part of it. And a lot of our content is very historical in nature, but we also some much more modern pieces of content as well."

The Montana State Library suggests using a meme generator online, which can be found on the Montana Meme-ory contest page. The contest is broken down into three age groups - 10 to 18, 19 to 40, and 41 to 120.

All entries must be submitted by May 13. May is historic preservation month.

Birnel said there have been some fun winners in their past two contests, including an entry from a former employee from the Montana Historical Society.

"He said, 'Leroy always fancied himself a chick magnet,' and it was a picture of a man feeding his chickens," said Birnel, "which I thought was great."

Library staff will select finalists for the contest and then the public will get to vote for the winners May 20 through 27.

Winners will receive history-themed grab bags of prizes, including four buy-one-get-one-free tickets to the Montana Historical Society and prints from Montana artists Charlie Russell and Stan Lynde.