Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota

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The National Music Museum is one of the great museums of its kind in the world. Housed in a carefully restored Carnegie library building on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, the museum's ever-growing collections of more than 7,000 American, European, and non-Western instruments are the most inclusive in the world, rivaled only by similar museums in Berlin, Paris, Oxford, Rome, and Vienna. Included are many of the earliest, best-preserved, and historically most important musical instruments known to survive, along with an extensive library of rare books and archival materials.

The museum serves the people of the Great Plains and the nation as an international center for collecting and conserving musical instruments of all cultures and bringing people together to study, enjoy, and understand our diverse musical heritage.

It has a special responsibility to preserve musical instruments that were either imported to or built in the United States, with emphasis on the musical traditions of the Northern Great Plains. The museum's American musical instrument manufacturers archives has no rival. Complete band libraries from small towns in the region are preserved, along with many unique resources such as the handwritten manuscripts of the music composed by General Custer's bandmaster, Felix Vinatieri (1834–91); the compositions of one of the region's first serious female composers, Marjorie Eastwood Dudley (1891–1961); and the musical arrangements of Stan Fritts (1910– 69) and the Korn Kobblers.

Museum facilities also include a specialized library, state-of-the-art conservation laboratory, and extensive study and storage areas.

See also EDUCATION: Museums.

André P. Larson University of South Dakota

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