National Music Museum reopens after renovation
Seven new galleries are now open on the first floor of the National Music Museum in Vermillion.
The doors to the museum have been closed for five years of renovation. Where there used to be a fountain, now there is an accessible pathway to the front doors.
Upon entrance visitors are in the museum lobby, to the left there is a brand-new Performance Hall and special exhibition gallery. To the right are 11 permanent galleries.
Museum board members, employees and the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Visitors toured the museum for the first time following the ceremony.
Carol Robertson is the Deputy Director of Museum Services. She said the seven new galleries focus on the ways people have interacted with music throughout their lives.
“What we’ve decided to do is take a bit of a different approach to the way in which we present the instrument and look at the ways they interact with us and how we can relate to them whether we’re musicians or scholars or regular people. There is something in some way we can connect,” said Robertson.
The new galleries span topics from celebrity instruments to music in times of war and conflict. They all feature a more hands-on approach to education on the instruments. Specifically, the Gamelan gallery features the Javanese traditional instrument as well as an interactive opportunity to learn and play the instrument.
Construction of the extension to the museum began five years ago. The museum’s Deputy Director of Collections, Michael Suing, talked about the planning of the new exhibits and how working with the Chicago design firm Luci Creative helped the process.
“They were really responsive in how we wanted to tell the stories of our collections,” said Suing “and the conversations we had with her, and her team helped us to learn about our collection, frankly. And to understand the way we could have different stories come out and different intersectionality come through in how we interpreted our collections here.”
The Director of the museum is Dwight Vaught. He accepted the job almost two years ago in the middle of the renovation project. He considers himself a musician by trade and said the museum has historical significance.
“I think first and foremost we are stewards of what’s been given to us,” said Vaught. “Whether it's money, whether it’s the instruments, whether it’s the exhibits, whether it’s the longevity and the history. You know, we fulfill a particular role in time, and we just have to hold to the integrity of what has been brought to us, given to us before. We’re now stewards of that. So that’s what all these exhibits are it’s updating things but it’s keeping them preserved.”
The National Music Museum is in Vermillion on the University of South Dakota campus.