Museums Tour

by Katlyn Richter on March 29, 2010 · 1 comment

South Dakota has interesting and fun attractions for all ages – during all seasons! If you are un-sure about the weather, South Dakota has plenty of museums to tour throughout the state. Escape the heat or rain inside one of many South Dakota museums. 

Explore South Dakota’s museums in the following areas: 


Agricultural Heritage Museum, Brookings – The museum is “dedicated to preserving our rich agricultural history and rural heritage.”  Exhibits show technology, crops and livestock in South Dakota throughout the years. Also, some exhibits concentrate on human experiences, institutions, and cultures that were shaped by our state’s agricultural landscape and diverse environment.

 Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, De Smet – Visit three historic structures from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s time. The original Surveyors’ house (“By the Shores of Silver Lake”), the original First School, and the last home of Pa and Ma on third street all can be seen in De Smet, South Dakota. These structures are filled with artifacts that belonged to Laura and her family.

Redlin Art Center, Watertown – This art gallery uniquely displays 150 of Terry Redlin’s original paintings throughout three floors. The 52,000 square foot building designed by Terry’s son has welcomed more than 2 million visitors since opening in 1997. Open year round with free admission.


Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, Mitchell – A tour of the Thomsen Center Archeodome reveals life in a 1,000yearold village. Excavations have discovered evidence of everything from the food the villagers ate to the tools they used. Included at the site is a model of what the Indian Village site may have looked like, along with a life-size reconstructed lodge.  Open April – September, admission is charged.

 Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls – This attraction features the Visual Arts Center, Kirby Science Discovery Center, Wells Fargo CineDome Theater, and Husby Performing Arts Center.  At the Kirby Science Discovery Center kids can dig a dino, touch a tornado, fly a space shuttle, launch a hot air balloon, and meet “Stan” a T-Rex replica.  Kids and adults can learn something with the hands on, interactive museum at the Washington Pavilion.  Open year round, admission is charged.

 National Music Museum, Vermillion – This museum is one of the great institutions of its kind in the world and is recognized as “A Landmark of American Music” by the National Music Council. The National Music Museum is the only place in the world where you can find two 18th-century grand pianos which design was conceived by the piano’s inventor Bartolomeo Cristofori.  The groups of instruments found throughout the world can be found nowhere else but at the National Music Museum in Vermillion.


Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center, Fort Pierre – This museum is dedicated to the legendary sport of South Dakota – the rodeo.  The history and the stars of rodeo are depicted throughout the museum.  The museum features an extensive collection of memorabilia from Casey Tibbs, 9-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider. 

 South Dakota Hall of Fame, Chamberlain – The South Dakota Hall of Fame is committed to showcasing the people of South Dakota being as diverse as the landscape.  The people of the past, present and future are remembered and recognized by the South Dakota Hall of Fame. 

 Atka Lakota Museum, Chamberlain – The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center (Akta Lakota means to honor the people) is an educational outreach center.  The museum strives to preserve and promote the Lakota (Sioux) culture. Visitors can take a visual journey through the heritage of the Sioux and tour contemporary Sioux art.

 South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center, Pierre – Explore South Dakota’s history in the Cultural Heritage Center.  Stories of American Indians, Lewis and Clark, and more are told in the museum.  Try your hand at milking a cow to see if you can beat the electricity powered milking machine.  Listen in on a four party line telephone conversations – phone calls were not always private! The South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center is open year round.


1880 Town, Murdo – More than 30 buildings have been authentically furnished with thousands of relics on 1880 Town’s main street.  Step back to life on the prairie.  With several interesting stops along the way, you will be left with something to remember.  View memorabilia from the late Casey Tibbs, a champion rodeo bronc rider, and props used in the filming of “Dances with Wolves.”  Along with other attractions 1880 Town has a Long Horn Saloon where you can get a cold sarsaparilla, visit the gift shop, and diner for lunch.  1880 Town is right off Interstate 90 near Murdo. Open May 1 through October 31.

 Adams Museum & House, Deadwood – The Historic Adams house was built in 1892 by Deadwood pioneers Harris and Anna Franklin.  The elegant Queen Anne-style house has recently has been described as the “grandest house west of the Mississippi.”  The Adams Museum is the oldest history museum in the Black Hills.  True West magazine listed it among the Top 10 Western Museums in 2009.  Many artifacts from Deadwood’s history are displayed at the museum including a replica of Potato Creek Johnny’s famous gold nugget, and artifacts from Wild Bill and Calamity Jane’s life in Deadwood.  Open year round.

 Big Thunder Gold Mine, Keystone – Receive a free gold ore sample along the tour of Big Thunder Gold Mine – an original mine from 1892.  This mine features underground tours by professional guides.  The site also has two gift shops, a mining museum, dining, antique shop, and ice cream store.  Something for everyone! Open May – October.

 D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives, Spearfish – This is one of the oldest operating hatcheries in the country.  The hatchery was developed to propagate, stock, and establish trout populations in the Black Hills and Wyoming.  The hatchery was so successful they ceased operations in the mid-80s and re-opened with a new mission.  Today the location serves as a living fishery museum to the public.  The hatchery continues to protect and preserve fishery records and artifacts for educational, research, and historic purposes, and provides interpretive and educational programs to the public. View the fish and tour the grounds.  A picnic and park area is located just outside the hatchery for an afternoon of relaxation.

 Mammoth Site, Hot Springs – This location is the world’s largest mammoth research facility.  The working paleontological site/museum contains the largest concentration of Columbian and Wooly mammoths ever found where they died in the world. Visitors can interact with staff and volunteers while they work on preserving the fossils removed from the sinkhole.  Hundreds of animals entered the spring-fed sinkhole to drink and bathe; they were unable to climb back up the slippery banks and became trapped.  Young visitors can take part in the Junior Paleontologist Dig June 1-August 15. Open year round.

 National Presidential Wax Museum, Keystone – This museum ties in perfectly with Mount Rushmore.  Visitors can view life-size, life-like wax figures depicting our country’s historical settings. All 44 presidents have been replicated in wax! A self guided, hour-long tour visits 96 wax figures. The museum has a state of the art narration system, gift shop with Black Hills Gold, and dining and mini-golf nearby. Open April – October.

 Sturgis Motorcycle Museum/Hall of Fame, Sturgis – This museum houses motorcycles dating back to 1905. Motorcycles, exhibits, photographs, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally history, and memorabilia are all on display.  The Mission of the museum is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the history of motorcycling, honor those who have made a positive and significant impact on the sport and lifestyle, and pay tribute to the heritage of the Sturgis Rally.”

 Wounded Knee Museum, Wall – The narrative museum tells the story of a small band of Lakota families who became the focus of the last major military operation of the U.S. army in its efforts to suppress the Native American tribes. Exhibits and photographs provide a picture of events surrounding the Wounded Knee Massacre. Visitors can learn about a wide variety of topics related to the massacre through text, photos, graphics, a Remembrance Room, and a model of the site. Admission is charged, open seasonally through October 12.

 South Dakota State Railroad Museum, Hill City – This museum achieves and features railroad memorabilia, maps, photos, and other items from South Dakota and other American railroads.  The museum is located directly on the grounds of the 1880 Train.

These museums are just a brief overview of what South Dakota has to offer.  For more museums and attractions please visit our website,, or this direct link to view additional museums in South Dakota

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Museums Tour – Part 2
May 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm

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