POLSON — The Miracle of America Museum, known as “the Smithsonian of the West,” has brought its museum online with a new YouTube channel, created to share founder Gil Mangels’ collection of thousands of Americana artifacts with people from all over the world.
The Miracle of America Museum is dedicated to the preservation of one of the largest collections of American history, curated by Mangels and shared with over 18,000 visitors annually. Through the years the expansive museum has welcomed visitors from the world over to explore its collection of over 340,000 Americana artifacts, including vintage firearms, village businesses, and military artifacts, as well as horse-drawn and gas-powered transportation, including motorcycles and classic automobiles.
“It started when I was about three and a half years old when I was at a family picnic down at the Flathead Lake beach, which is nearby, and I found a really neat looking rock that attracted me,” Mangels recalled, “and I picked it up, showed my mother, and she said “oh, that’s an Indian arrowhead – you need to save that”…I didn’t know it was historic at the time, but it intrigued me; I was drawn to that.”
Mangels became a collector at a young age, and through his childhood years and into adulthood, his collection grew. It grew so much through the years that he and his wife, Joanne, founded the museum in 1981, and the rest is history.
Mangels’ belief in the importance of American history and its preservation has gone beyond the grounds in which he contains his collection; he said it is now destined to live on through the museum’s new YouTube channel, which just launched on Jan. 29. The first three playlists are now available to the public: “America: The Miracle”, “America: Feelin’ Good”, and “America: Havin’ Fun Yet?”. Each playlist is centered around an American theme with correlating videos, ranging from 1-10 minutes, of Gil walking viewers around the museum grounds and sharing anecdotes, both personal and historical.