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A Glimpse at the Future: National Music Museum to open Seven New Galleries on August 26th

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Following extensive renovations and remodeling of its permanent exhibitions, the National Music Museum (NMM) will open seven new galleries this summer, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and community celebration scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26, from 1-4 p.m.
Casework, graphics, interactive elements and more are installed in the permanent galleries of the NMM
Casework, graphics, interactive elements and more are currently being installed in the permanent galleries of the NMM

The NMM will be joined by the University of South Dakota and the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company (VCDC) to celebrate the opening of the new galleries. Located on the first floor of the NMM’s original Carnegie Library building, these galleries will feature some of the finest instruments in the collections and will utilize stories, sound, graphics and interactive elements to explore how people are shaped by music.

“Although the process has taken longer than expected, we are very excited to have reached another monumental step toward completely reopening the NMM,” said Dwight Vaught, NMM director. “We would not be here today without the consistent support of our many donors and the encouragement of patrons who can’t wait to see what’s coming.”

A view through a doorway with a cast iron gate, looking into a museum gallery that is under construction, with ladders and other work equipment visible.
Familiar wrought iron gates will welcome guests into a whole new museum experience when seven permanent exhibition galleries open in August. Photo by Byron Pillow.

Work on both the current exhibit renovation and the Lillibridge expansion, which opened in 2021, began in the spring of 2019 after years of planning.

For the past several years, the NMM curatorial team has been working with Luci Creative, a Chicago-based agency specializing in developing, designing and implementing compelling exhibit spaces for museums, cultural institutions and corporations around the world, to develop the exhibition plan.

Through this partnership, the NMM has worked to bring visitors a unique, enjoyable and educational experience that will excite them about the world of music and musical instruments, no matter their musical background. The redesign process required not only selecting objects for exhibition, but also refining the stories told about them.

The new installations emphasize how musical instruments tell stories of human creativity, culture and connection.

“We are fortunate to have so many objects to choose from, many with incredible stories of manufacture, ownership and use,”

- remarked Michael Suing, NMM Deputy Director of Collections.

A view of a museum gallery, partially finished, with large graphics being applied to the walls, and various in-progress elements of display casework and platforms.
Crews from Ravenswood Studio began working full time to install casework, graphics and fixtures for the permanent exhibits in mid-May. Pictured above is a glimpse at one of galleries showcasing international concert halls, and below is the beginning of a series of exhibits featuring music’s role in personal expression.
The galleries set to open in August include the following:
  • “Our Shared Musical Origins and Celebrated Artists”

  • “Musical Expression in Identity and Faith”

  • “Global Travel, Trade & Conflict”

  • “Javanese Gamelan Splendor and Tradition”

  • “The NMM, Its Founding and Future”

  • “Building an American Sound: Guitars and Other Plucked Strings”

  • “Workshops of the Masters: An Inside Look at Guitar and Violin Making”


The ribbon cutting ceremony and community celebration is free and open to the public. The event will feature live music, family activities, guided tours, and food and refreshments.

Following the opening of the galleries, the museum will be open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. The special exhibition, “As Good as Gold: The First 50 Years (1973-2023),” which displays some of the instruments that shaped the NMM during the first 50 years of its history, will also remain open through 2023.



  • Phase 1 of the NMMs permanent exhibitions will open August 30th

  • 7 new galleries covering the entire first floor

  • Open hours will become Tuesday - Friday, 10-4; and Saturdays, 12-4

  • Community Celebration to mark the grand reopening will be held on August 26th, from 1-4PM.

New Admissions Fees effective August 30th: General Admission - $10 (includes all NMM Live! events) Senior Citizens (65+) - $8 Active Military/First Responders/Veterans - $8 Children (up to 18) - $5 AAA Members - $8 NMM Members - FREE USD Faculty/Staff/Students - FREE

The National Music Museum (NMM), located on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, is one of the world’s finest collections of musical instruments. The NMM owns some of the most historically significant musical instruments in existence. Founded in 1973, the National Music Museum Inc. is a non-profit entity in partnership with USD.

This release written by Hanna DeLange, University of South Dakota. Originally published by the University of South Dakota.



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Our brand new first-floor galleries are officially OPEN! The wait is finally over - come see the NEW NMM. Information on the galleries, hours, and more can be found on the VISIT & LEARN and EXHIBITIONS & EVENTS pages!

Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am to 4pm, stop in to see our seven new galleries, concerts, events, and more! 

The Jason & Betsy Groves Special Exhibitions Gallery is OPEN! Come explore our current special exhibition HIGH STRUNG: FIVE CENTURIES OF STRINGED KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS.


the NMM will be CLOSED until TUESDAY, 1/16

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