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Museums, Music & Theater Sites
Those looking for a touch of history, mixed with some informative entertainment, can visit these exceptional museums found in South Dakota and the Rapid City region.
High Plains Western Heritage Center
Covering 20,000 square feet, the High Plains Western Heritage Center is located in Spearfish in western South Dakota. The center exhibits western heritage and natural history of Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and of course, South Dakota. The High Plains Western Heritage Center features a 200-seat theater, a furnished log cabin, a Deadwood Stagecoach, and much more. Set on a 40-acre site along Interstate 90, the heritage center is open daily year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
South Dakota Hall of Fame
Established in 1974, the South Dakota Hall of Fame is located in Chamberlain, and proudly honors the men and women who have contributed to the betterment of South Dakota. An official state Hall of Fame, the "hall" honors those who contributed to everything from agriculture and business, to athletic and historical. Schedule plenty of time to stroll the 10,000 square foot building, overlooking the beautiful Missouri River. The interactive exhibits, including the touch screen kiosks, and educational programs are a great resource for the state's K-12 school's curriculum.
South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center
Just inland of the Missouri River in central South Dakota, the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center preserve the history and culture of South Dakota. As you plan your next visit to Pierre, be sure to include some time spent at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center. Opened in 1989, the heritage center is home to the South Dakota State Historical Society, a museum, and the State Archives. You'll find access to the SDCHS is free for kids 17 and younger, and seniors 60 and up. You'll want to sign up for a guided tour, which usually takes about an hour, and before you depart, head for the South Dakota Heritage Store for souvenirs.
Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center
Opened in 1991, the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center is a living museum located in Chamberlain. A top South Dakota historical attraction, the Akta Lakota Museum is found on the St. Joseph’s Indian School. The museum features a variety of exhibits showcasing the culture of Native American tribes the eastern region of South Dakota. Featured artifacts include artwork, pottery, quilts, beadwork, paintings, and more.
Built in 1930, the Adams Museum sprung from the mind of former Deadwood mayor W.E. Adams. Envisioned as a tribute to the pioneers of the Black Hills and to his first wife and two daughters, the Adams Museum is an ideal destination for your next trip into Deadwood and the surrounding Black Hills area.
The Adams Museum is open year round and is free of admission, though a five dollar donation is suggested. You and the family will have up close views of artifacts from the rich history of the Black Hills. Check out Potato Creek Johnny's gold nugget and a Plesiosaur.
Black Hills Mining Museum
Set in the city of Lead, near Deadwood, in the Badlands of South Dakota, the Black Hill Mining Museum preserves the area's rich gold mining history. Browse the museum's exhibits and enjoy the 45 minute informative tour in the recreated Homestake Gold Mine exhibit, for a personal explanation of gold mining.
During the gold rush, the Homestake Mine was the world's largest gold mine, reaching 8,000 feet below the surface. Created by more than 140 miners and former employees, the museum provides visitors an authentic mining exhibits. Be sure to pan for gold in the museum's panning display to complete your visit.
Dakota Territorial Museum
Located in West Side Park, the Dakota Territorial Museum holds artifacts illustrating Yankton’s history, along with insights into the early Dakota Territory – plus the Native American inhabitants and early pioneers. Plan an educational visit to the Dakota Territorial Museum on your next trip into eastern SD.
The Dakota Territorial Museum complex also features a restored rural school house and a Great Northern Railway Depot, complete with a retired Burlington Northern Railway caboose. There's a vintage Territorial Council Building you can check out, and even Dakota Territory Blacksmith Shop.
The Journey Museum & Gardens
Opened in 1997, the Journey Museum and Gardens in Rapid City strives to preserve the heritage of the Black Hills region. The museum presents the 2.5 billion-year-old history of the region through its four prehistoric and variety of historic collections. Featured exhibits include the Geology Paleontology, Archaeology, Into the Cosmos, and Minnilusa Pioneer collections. Moreover, don't miss the Western Native Gardens and the traditional Sioux arts in the beautiful Duhamel Collection of Native American Artifacts.
National Music Museum
Founded in 1973, the National Music Museum is located on the University of South Dakota campus, and is a premier attraction in Vermillion. As you embark on your visit to South Dakota, be sure to plan an exciting and illuminating day exploring the National Music Museum. At the museum, you'll find a collection of nearly 13,500 pieces, ranging from European, American, and non-Western instruments. Don't miss the Grand piano by Louis Bas of France, made in 1781, and the rare double chromatic harp, one of only two in existence – both built by Henry Greenway.
South Dakota Discovery Center
Affectionately considered a "science playground for the whole family," the South Dakota Discover Center provides a fun and educational experiences with "please touch" interactive science and nature exhibits. The South Dakota Discovery Center is located in a huge, converted city power plant in the SD capital city of Pierre.
On your next trip through central South Dakota, be sure to check out aquariums stocked with walleye, gar, trout, and other Missouri River fish – all at the South Dakota Discovery Center. It's an ideal way to spend an afternoon with the kids. Allow them to illuminate their minds, spark the scientific imagination, and have a great time doing it at the South Dakota Discover Center.