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50 Works for 50 Years: Collections Retrospective

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Open -

On View:

  • In the museum: Aug. 17, 2020 - March 13, 2021
  • Online: Ongoing

Explore the Works by Decade


"I loved walking through such a diverse exhibit. The beauty of this entire collection is outstanding. Thanks for sharing it."

"Great exhibit! I had some of these artists as teachers at SDSU in the 1970s. It brings back lots of great memories!"

"What a beautiful exhibit! I will be using this to guide me through my comp class and I'm excited to explore this realm of writing."

"I am supposed to write an essay on one of these pieces too. Very excited!"

"Lovely art :🙂"

"A class of mine is based off one of these pieces (writing). I can't wait to research them more!"

"I like the one by Laura Rogers with the forest fire."

We really value visitor comments about South Dakota Art Museum exhibitions and your experience at the museum or here on our website. Please take a moment to send us your comments and let us know if we can share them here. We also appreciate visitor reviews on GoogleTripadvisorFacebook and other social sites! Share Your Comments

May 31, 2020, marked the 50th anniversary of the dedication and opening of the South Dakota Art Museum, then known as the South Dakota Memorial Art Center. The campaign to build a state art museum had been historic. It required the largest capital campaign within the state at the time, with an estimated 50,000 individuals contributing to the efforts. The public streamed through its doors that first day 50 years ago.

This historic community effort is the bedrock of the museum, a testament to the relationships that the museum was founded on and the public service it is dedicated to. The museum was built by community, built to serve and celebrate community and is still vital and vibrant today because of the support and involvement of the communities it serves.

The many people that helped create, support and shape the museum throughout its history are embodied in the collection of the museum itself. They are alive in the artworks they helped to preserve for the benefit of the public. To study the works in the collection is to truly understand the history of this place, experience inspiring values, witness beautiful achievements, all crafted by outstanding individuals and cultivated by communities who gave to art so art could give to all of us.

The museum has a rich collecting history, with more than 7,000 objects now in its care. This exhibition features just one artwork acquired each year for all 50 years of the museum’s existence. With so many artworks in the museum’s care, the picture this exhibition paints is far from complete. The selections for the show celebrate the strength of the quality and diversity of the museum collection as a whole, and draw attention to important facets and relationships of the museum through key acquisitions of historical significance.

We will be sharing more information on the artists, artworks and relationships represented in the exhibition over the course of the show’s run, both in the gallery and online. We encourage you to revisit us here in person or online through social media and our website, to join us in retracing our footsteps and celebrating the richness this exhibition contains. There is so much to celebrate here.

And we want to hear your 50th anniversary South Dakota Art Museum stories. Please share with us in comment books in the galleries or in our digital platforms. Let us know what the South Dakota Art Museum means to you.

The South Dakota Art Museum is proud of all its accomplishments in its 50-year history, all of the efforts that built up to that first 50 years, and excited to bring so many more fruits of art to the people it will serve in the next 50 years.