OPINION: With work, DD Museum can weather the stormThe past three years have been very challenging for our nation and region. Financial challenges have struck hard at the non-profit cultural entities of our country. Museums across the nation have been closing their doors in the face of disappearing budgets and reduced contributions from the public.
By: LORI HOLMBERG, Guest columnist
The past three years have been very challenging for our nation and region. Financial challenges have struck hard at the non-profit cultural entities of our country. Museums across the nation have been closing their doors in the face of disappearing budgets and reduced contributions from the public.
The Dakota Discovery Museum has been struggling to weather the times as best it can. The museum will survive, and indeed thrive again. With the help of the Mitchell community and the museum’s friends around the nation, we can continue to preserve and promote the rich history, art and culture of the Middle Border region — the Upper Great Plains.
The Dakota Discovery Museum has a long history of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. For more than 70 years, it has provided us access to the region’s richest cultural treasures. Founded in 1939, the Friends of the Middle Border Inc. and the Dakota Discovery Museum were the brainchild of editor and journalist Leland D. Case, the brother of then South Dakota Sen. Francis Case. As a South Dakota native son, Leland was moved by the perseverance of the people who lived in and settled this inhospitable region. His vision was the creation of a cultural center where the stories, the resourcefulness, the ingenuity and the creativity of those people would be preserved as an inspiration for future generations.
Leland Case brought together some of the time’s greatest minds to help establish this dream: South Dakota Poet Laureate Badger Clark; Hamlin Garland, winner of the 1922
The arts are also a vital community component, with an annual Youth Art Show held each March that has exhibited the works of hundreds of students over the years. Area students from elementary to college level are actively engaged in the museum, assisting with projects and gaining valuable experience through internships.
But we are once again facing difficult times. Since 2009, the museum’s annual budget has been reduced from $240,000 to the $156,000 budget proposed to persevere through 2012. This has only been reached by sacrificing much in the effort to simply survive the current financial times and come out intact after the storm has passed.
To help meet our difficulties head-on, the museum is announcing the Community Challenge Campaign. Generous museum friends have offered to support the Dakota Discovery Museum, and they have challenged you, the public to match their gift.
For every dollar raised, they will match it, dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000.
We encourage you to stop at the museum to find out more about the Community Challenge and support the museum for the future.
Pulitzer Prize for Biography; Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum; national historian James Truslow Adams, who coined the term the “American Dream”; and philosopher and educator John Dewey. These were some of the men who signed their names to the fledgling organization in December of 1939. Hamlin Garland blessed the naming of the organization in recognition of the “Middle Border,” a term the great writer used to describe the Upper Great Plains.
Over the years, the organization has experienced setbacks and great advances. Two recent milestones in the museum’s history were the acquisition of the art and studio items of South Dakota artist Charles Hargens Jr. and the construction of a new state-of-the-art museum facility on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus.
The museum’s programs regularly use the museum’s vast collection to demonstrate how change impacts the world we live in, both from the past and from last week. Through its programs, the museum strives to help children, students and visitors foster a sense of time and their place in their communities.
Lori Holmberg is executive director of the Dakota Discovery Museum, Mitchell.