This museum (12 E. Lawrence St., 406/442-6400, www.holtermuseum.org , 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., free) displays very good changing exhibits of contemporary art and offers workshops, readings, and a gallery store. Summer visitors should check out the auction exhibition; early in August the works are auctioned off at a big party.
Several private Western art galleries range along Last Chance Gulch , including Ghost Art Gallery (21 S. Last Chance Gulch, 406/443-4536) and the Upper Missouri Artists Gallery (7 N. Last Chance Gulch, 406/457-8240).
The Archie Bray Foundation (2915 Country Club Ave., 406/443-3502, www.archiebray.org ) is a studio workshop, classroom, and gallery for ceramic artists. The brickyard and kilns of the Western Clay Manufacturing Company have stood just outside Helena  for more than 100 years.
Archie Bray, whose father began the business, was approached by local artists to use the brickyard’s huge beehive kilns to fire ceramics. Bray, who was already active in the Helena arts scene, decided to dedicate a portion of the factory to the ceramic arts. In 1951 he founded the Archie Bray Foundation, now a world-famous facility for training talented young potters and a space in which resident artists can experiment and exhibit.
Visitors can watch potters in workshops and view works for sale in the gallery. The old kilns and outbuildings still stand, while avant-garde ceramics, colorful and abstract, are strewn about with guileless abandon.