History

*Note that the National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota, is currently closed for architectural expansion and renovation. Reopening is slated for 2021.*

Far away from the museums on the National Mall in D.C., the National Music Museum (NMM) is one national museum not to be missed. Recognized by the New York Times as a “musical Smithsonian…whose galleries teem with masterpieces,” the NMM has attracted thousands of visitors each year, who make the pilgrimage to Vermillion, South Dakota from all 50 states and many countries.

Founded in 1973 on the campus of The University of South Dakota in Vermillion, the NMM is one of the great institutions of its kind in the world. Its renowned collections feature fine and historic instruments from many cultures and historical periods.

Spanning hundreds of years of culture, the NMM’s 15,000+ instruments range from priceless Italian violins to celebrity guitars, from organs to orchestrion, from harps to harpsichords, from dombaks to didgeridoos, from Les Paul to Sgt. Pepper, from Stradivari to Elvis. With its extensive archives of instrument-related materials, and offering the only graduate degree in musical instruments in North America [currently on hiatus during NMM expansion], the NMM has been an epicenter for musical-instrument research.

The NMM was founded as a partnership between The University of South Dakota, which provides staff and facilities for preservation, teaching, and research, and the Board of Trustees of the NMM, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation that is responsible for acquisitions, public exhibiting, and programming. The Board of Trustees is totally dependent upon support from NMM members, individuals, corporations, foundations, and governmental units.

The NMM is recognized as "A Landmark of American Music" by the National Music Council.