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History, Mission, Purpose


Since 1970, the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings has been a destination for people from around the world to enjoy the artistic legacy of South Dakota in all its diversity. Seven galleries feature 15-17 new exhibits every year featuring a wide variety of artworks and themes, many with ties to South Dakota and others that bring international perspectives. Exhibitions are curated from the museum’s extensive collection of Harvey Dunn and Paul Goble paintings, Native American art, Marghab Linens, fine art prints from the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s in the Cockerline Collection, as well as from the museum’s wide connections to emerging and internationally known artists and traveling exhibitions.

The museum has more than 7,000 objects in its collection including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, textiles and ceramics. The Museum Store features jewelry, pottery, and original works of art by local and regional artists in addition to books on South Dakota history and culture.

The South Dakota Art Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). This accreditation recognizes the museum's commitment and demonstration of the highest professional standards for education, public service and collections care. The museum is consistently recognized for the quality of its exhibitions and educational programs, including being named one of the top 25 museums and galleries in the U.S. in 2017, 2018 and 2019 by American Art Awards.

Mission Statement

As stewards of the state's art treasures, the South Dakota Art Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets visual art to provide access and education, to foster appreciation of the visual arts for the people of South Dakota and its visitors.

Approved by the South Dakota Art Museum Advisory Board, October 7, 2016.

Stated Charter Purpose

The museum is designed to:

  • Provide permanent housing and display of the Harvey Dunn paintings, the Marghab Collection and other works of art which shall honor the creative nature of mankind and serve as an inspiration to the people of South Dakota.
  • Provide a program of changing exhibitions of contemporary and traditional works of art.
  • Provide the means for further extension of the visual arts for all communities of South Dakota through a variety of activities which will foster education through aesthetic enjoyment.

Approved in 1957 by the South Dakota State Legislature