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Dakotas History Gallery:



Inside the History Gallery you will be immersed with the history of the Middle Border Region (North Dakota, South Dakota, and parts of adjoining states). You will be able to learn more about the lives of the Plains Indians, the Fur Trade, Dakota Territory, Railroading, Farming and Ranching, and the 1930′s Great Depression.


South Dakota author, Archer Gilfillan, lived in this sheep wagon for almost 18 years, between 1915 and 1933, when he herded sheep in Harding County, South Dakota.

Artists Galleries:


I. Leland and Josephine Case Art Gallery - specializing in an eclectic display of Great Plains art from various artists;

II. Hargens Gallery – learn the story of one of America’s premiere illustrators of western storytelling, Charles Hargens Jr.

III. Howe Gallery – explore the life and creative genius of one of South Dakota’s greatest artists’, Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna (Yanktonai) Dakota, Oscar Howe.


Featured at the Dakota Discovery Museum is the recreated studio of Charles Hargens. The Painting to the left is "Frontiersman with flintlock & arrow through hat"

Historic Village:



The Dakota Discovery Historic Village features an expanded railroad history of local rail operations of the Milwaukee Railroad in the Dimock Depot. Farwell Church is an example of unadorned, country worship of the early 20th century as well as a facility used today for small group worship, poetry readings, music performances and summer weddings. The Sheldon School illustrates education during the homesteading era of the Great Plains. The Beckwith House was home to the co-founder of the World’s Only Corn Palace, founded 1892. Also in the Village, a variety of early farm equipment.

The Sheldon Country School was built in 1884 and the first session of school was held in the spring of 1885.

Past Exhibits:

Hiawatha Asylum


“In 1898, the U. S. Congress authorized the opening of the first and only insane asylum for Indians in the United States. Operated in Canton, SD from 1903 – 1935, the Hiawatha Insane Asylum was used to house tribal peoples from all across the United States. A motivation to better the psychiatric care and mental health of the tribal population across the United States had little or nothing to do with committal to the asylum; and much to do with other, less beneficent motivations. Dakota Discovery Museum will present stories from Hiawatha in the fall of 2018.

"The Hunt"

Dakota Discovery Museum in Mitchell has a new exhibit opening soon which appeals to one of the oldest traditions in the country.

“The Hunt,” a series of exhibits about hunting in this region, opens Monday, Oct. 3. Dakota Discovery Museum is located on the east side of Dakota Wesleyan University’s campus, along McGovern Avenue.

The exhibit is divided into three time periods: Pre-Lewis and Clark (before 1804); Lewis and Clark and the Mountain Man Era (1804-1860); and Post-Mountain Man Era (1860-1940).

This exhibit is a first-time collaborative effort involving Dakota Discovery Museum, Akta Lakota Museum (part of St. Joseph Indian School) in Chamberlain, and Dr. John Mathrole. “Dixie Thompson is the executive director of Akta Lakota Museum and has graciously provided art, artifacts and expertise. John holds a doctorate in toxicology and has a deep passion for America history, specializing in the Revolutionary War, Lewis and Clark, and the mountain man era. He is also an enrolled member of the Creek Tribe and as an avid re-enactor and has an extensive personal collection of articles associated with Lewis and Clark and mountain men, which he has placed on loan to the museum for the duration of the exhibit.”

The exhibit includes paintings, sculptures, artifacts from the Dakota Discovery Museum collection, as well as items on loan from ALM, full-body animal mounts, furs, and articles of clothing dating from Revolutionary War era, a Lewis and Clark uniform, mountain man apparel, wampum, firearms, knives and other mountain man accoutrements. Also, there is a history of buffalo hunting, pheasants in South Dakota, and of trophy hunting.

"The Faces and Fashions of the Middle Border."

Dakota Discovery Museum is presenting a new exhibit for the summer, "Faces and Fashions of Middle Border," through Aug. 22.


This exhibit combines two of the museum's extensive collections, photographs and textiles, to illustrate life in the Middle Border Region from the mid-1840s to 1936.

The term "Middle Border" refers to the Missouri River and the surrounding region. Hamlin Garland, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, used the term in "Sons of the MIddle Border" (1917) and its sequel, "A Daughter of the Middle Border" (1922).

Created and developed under the leadership of museum volunteer Pat Everett, the "Faces and Fashions" exhibit features several recent museum acquisitions, including a bustle skirt from the late 1890s and flapper dresses from the 1920s. Other pieces include a boy's outfit, a child's bicycle, a tuxedo worn to the 1904 inauguration of South Dakota Gov. Samuel H. Elrod, and shoes from children to adult.


Incorporated into the exhibit is a small sampling of the museum's more than 6,000 photographs that depict life in the Middle Border area. Photographs on exhibit include the 1907 graduating class from Mitchell High School; Mr and Mrs. Frederick Yerke, homesteaders in Lyman County; Mitchell citizens in front of the Mitchell Marble and Granite Co.; a political rally, featuring Theodore Roosevelt, held on the steps of what is today's LIFE church; the 1893 Corn Palace; and a 1912 photograph of Pierre showing part of the newly constructed state Capitol building in the background.

"First on the Scene" Exhibit

Dakota Discovery Museum has opened a new exhibit called "First on the Scene," which recognizes the contributions of first responders from Mitchell and the surrounding region.


Included in the exhibit are various pieces of equipment and memorabilia from law enforcement, firefighters and the American Red Cross, including the story of the only law enforcement death in Mitchell, an early piece of hand-pulled firefighting equipment, a selection of Red Cross uniforms, numerous newspaper clippings, photographs and other items.


The items on display come from a variety of sources including the museum's collection and contributions from Lyle Swenson, head of the Mitchell Area Historical Society, Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg, the Mitchell Police and Fire divisions and the Sioux Falls office of the American Red Cross.


The 9-11 Memorial Flag is on display as well, and contains the names of every service individual who lost their lives in the terrorist attack of 2001.


To the right are a few pictures from the exhibit now on display.









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