The National Music Museum’s (NMM) doors have been closed to the public for a major architectural expansion and renovation since the spring of 2019.
“The new wing is 17,000 square feet, so it’s a nice space for us that gives us the ability to have a real performance hall and a changing exhibition space,” said Matt Collinsworth, director of the NMM. “Those are two things that we didn’t have before.”
Located at the corner of Clark and Yale streets in Vermillion on the University of South Dakota’s campus, the museum has some of the most inclusive collections in the world, including the earlier, best preserved, and historically most important instruments known to survive. Over 15,000 instruments have been carefully moved for the updates.
“The new wing is the Lillibridge Wing, and one of our trustees, Cindy Lillibridge, gave the critical donation to make the new wing possible,” he said. “[This includes the new] performance hall, called the Janet Wanzek Performance Hall for our late friend Janet, and a changing exhibition gallery called the Groves Gallery, in honor of our trustee Jason Groves and his wife, Betsy.”
Tours at the NMM are self-guided multi-media tours with audio and curatorial commentary and videos.
Along with a space for temporary exhibits and concerts, the new construction also has a dedicated classroom, a new research conservation lab, a photography lab, additional archival storage, and above-ground staff and administration offices. Patrons will get to walk through the conversation, Collinsworth says, to watch experts in action.
“[Guests will] be able to see if a conservator happens to be working on something at that time,” he said. “They may be repairing an instrument, testing the finish on something. They could be looking at anything from a 400-year-old violin to a 20th century electric guitar.”
The new building connects to the main museum space, which also is getting a major facelift for the everyday exhibitions.
“We now have the flexibility to bring in traveling shows from other institutions if we want to.” – Matt Collinsworth
“Every few decades you need new case work you need to update things to appeal and to attract new audiences,” said Collinsworth. “We hope once the exhibitions are done we will be able to continue our work as a center for research and preservation, but we also expect that these new exhibitions will become a new drive for tourism and economic development and Vermillion and the region.”
Instruments include everything from the Amati ‘King’ cello created by Andrea Amati to Bill Clinton’s saxophone.
Offices open this month, and Collinsworth says the NMM hopes to open a larger portion of the space in 2021 with the majority of it reopening in 2022.
“I think the thing that excites me the most is the fact that we’ve been hidden now for a couple years,” he said. “We’ve gone quiet and are now getting close to the point where we can start playing an active role in the life of the community and the life of the campus again.”
For more information, visit nmmusd.org.
When you’re ready to travel, great places are waiting. Learn more at LiveVermillion.com/COVID-19.