South Dakota’s 10 Best Galleries and Museums

Anya Schukin

Located in the Midwestern region of the United States, South Dakota is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes. With Mount Rushmore as the main tourist attraction of the state, South Dakota’s culture and art remain strongly influenced by the state’s Native American ancestors and surrounding rural areas. We take a look at ten must-see art galleries and museums from Sioux Falls to Rapid City and historic Deadwood.


1. South Dakota Art Museum


Cockerline Gallery
Courtesy of South Dakota Art Museum
Located in Brookings since 1970, the South Dakota Art Museum has been a place for tourists from around the world to enjoy the legacy of South Dakota. With rotating exhibits spanning the illustrations of Harvey Dunn and Paul Goble, Native American art, as well as other international and regional artists, the museum is home to more than 7,000 objects and collections including jewellery, pottery, art and books on South Dakota history and culture. The museum has also acquired the Vogel and Cockerline Collections.

2. The Adams Museum


Image courtesy of Red Cloud Museum
Founded in 1930 by businessman W.E. Adams, the Adams Museum is based in downtown Deadwood with the purpose of preserving and displaying the history of the Black Hills. Over the years the museum has collected some of the Black Hill’s greatest gems including Potato Creek Johnny’s gold nugget, N.C Wyeth’s pencil sketch of Western legend Wild Bill Hickok, and a one-of-a-kind plesiosaur. In 2005, the Adams Museum underwent a major renovation to add three levels of exhibitions and a western history bookstore.

3. The Heritage Center

Art Gallery, Museum, School, Shop, Store

At the Heritage Center, they believe they are “more than just a museum or art gallery,” but an economic engine on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Since 80 percent of the Lakota community in South Dakota is unemployed, the conditions in southwestern South Dakota can be challenging. Through the Heritage Center’s gift shop and online store, local artists have contributed towards their economy by making work available to the wider community. Located on the campus of Red Cloud Indian School, the museum has become a model and source of inspiration for the Lakota people who want visitors to honour and celebrate the Lakota culture and Native American art.

4. The Journey Museum


Image courtesy of Bill Groethe at Prairie Edge
Taking its visitors on a journey through time, the Journey Museum focuses of the violent upheaval that formed the Black Hills over 2.5 billion years ago and through the saga of the Western Frontier. The Journey Museum brings together four major prehistoric and historic collections to tell the complete legacy of the Western Great Plains land and people, including the Pap Madison Cabin and the Crouch Line Railroad. From discovering where the dinosaurs are buried in the prairie soil to why the Sioux tribe called their sacred Black Hills the “Center of the Universe,” the Journey Museum provides all the answers.

5. Eide-Dalrymple Gallery

Building, University

As part of Augustana University, the Eide-Dalrymple Gallery contributes to the education and culture of the college and state. Inspired by the artists of today, the gallery serves as a resource for teaching and learning with nine exhibits a year including student work, as well as the work of professional artists. The most important collection of European and American original prints from The Carl Grupp Collection is housed here: the works of Picasso, Chagall, and Matisse are part of it. The Eide-Dalyrmple Gallery is named after the art professors Palmer Eide and Ogden Dalrymple, much of whose collaborative work can be seen across campus from the The Bears by the Humanities building to The Sower inside the Chapel.

6. Northern Plains Indian Art Market


Established in 1988, the Northern Plains Indian Art Market was originally started as a place where Native American artists could sell their artwork. It has since become a renowned showcase for American Indian art of the North Plains and has been rated as one of the top ten Indian Art Markets in the country by Native Peoples Magazine. Now the longest-running Indian art show in the country, it has seen over 800 artists from seven Northern Plains States participate. The market is hosted over two days at the end of September each year.

7. National Music Museum


Courtesy of National Music Museum
Called a “national treasure,” the National Music Museum is located in Vermillion, South Dakota, on the campus of The University of South Dakota. The NMM is one of the largest and most important collections of historic instruments in the world. The NMM’s crown jewels include Antonio Stradivari masterpieces: a mandolin, guitar, the ‘Fruh” cello, and the ‘Harrison’ violin. The NMM is home also to the renowned Andrea Amati ‘King’ cello (oldest known cello, 1550s) as well as to the world’s oldest playable harpsichord, the ‘Neapolitan,’ circa 1530. With 15,000 instruments in the NMM holdings and 1,200 on public display, visitors will view saxophones by inventor Adolphe Sax; plus celebrity treasures like the Bill Clinton Presidential saxophone, and Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan guitars. The NMM also exhibits one of the largest and finest sets of gamelan instruments outside of Indonesia.

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