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The National Music Museum:
The Building, Townsley Courtyard, and Tuma's Sculptures

Front of the National Music Museum

Located on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River basin near where the Lewis & Clark expedition camped in 1804, Vermillion, South Dakota, is a small, typical Midwestern college town of 10,000 people. Not so typical is the NMM, which is the home of some of the most important collections of rare, antique musical instruments to be found anywhere in the world!

View from NMM entrance

View of Townsley Courtyard from NMM entrance on a sunny September morning (2009).

The Townsley Courtyard was a gift to the Vermillion community from Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Rawlins (Balboa Island, California), in memory of Mrs. Rawlins' parents, John Boyd Townsley—who graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1900—and his wife, Emeline C. Townsley. The Townsley Courtyard was dedicated on September 26, 1987.

With walls of Indiana limestone cut to match the patterns found in the NMM's facade, the courtyard was designed by the architect Donald R. Baltzer to look as if it could have been part of the original building, constructed in 1910.

View of Tuma sculptures from NMM entrance

Sculptures in front of National Music Museum

Visitors to the NMM are welcomed by four bronze figures:
a turn-of-the-century immigrant violinst and three children (2002).

The building, originally constructed as a Carnegie library in 1910, is a three-story, 20,000-square-foot structure faced with Indiana limestone. Its restored interior decoration features an interplay of dark oak, marble wainscotting, and terrazzo floors. A year-long, $1-million restoration project, completed in early 1986, provided a sophisticated climate-control system that maintains the critical humidity and temperature levels needed to preserve the musical instruments.

Immigrant Violinist Statue

Prominent Black Hills sculptor Michael R. Tuma was commissioned by the NMM's Board of Trustees to create the statues, representing the Dakota musical heritage, in celebration of the South Dakota Centennial (1989).

Fountain in front of National Music Museum

The Townsley Courtyard Fountain (2002)

Museum Courtyard Fountain

A Summer Sunset

Close-up of Immigrant Violinist Statue

Detail of the immigrant violinist statue.
Michael R. Tuma, sculptor.

Postcards of these two views available from Gift Shop

Historic Photos of the Former Carnegie Library Building, Now the NMM

USD Library, built in 1910

Built in 1910

Enlarged USD Library, mid-20th century

Mid-20th century

USD Library, mid-20th century

Mid-20th century

The NMM on a winter evening in 1987

A winter evening in 1987

Flowers frame the courtyard

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National Music Museum
The University of South Dakota
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD   57069

©National Music Museum, 2000-2009
Most recent update: October 9, 2009

The University of South Dakota
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