Old Courthouse Museum Exhibits


Theaters: Stage to ScreenTheaters: Stage to Screen

Opening Night November 9th at the Old Courthouse Museum


In the 1880s, more than 10,000 people lived in the city of Sioux Falls, and they were looking for entertainment. Vaudeville shows and operas were popular at the time, and Sioux Falls needed to build a theater for these traveling shows to perform. By the early 1900s, moving pictures became popular, and movie houses were popping up left and right. Many of them designed for both stage and screen, and America’s “Golden Era” of movies exploded.  Soon, America’s suburban growth of the 1940s and 1950s impacted the jewels of downtown. Drive-In Theaters were one way for people to enjoy their car and enjoy a movie. But as more people moved away from the urban centers of the city, so did everything else. Movie theaters were either adding screens to current theaters or building new multi-plexes at shopping malls. Downtown one-screen theaters tried to stay afloat by playing second run movies, but many buildings were too expensive for owners to operate and were eventually torn down.

Grab some popcorn and a drink and join us for the opening night reception for the new exhibit Theaters: Stage to Screen on Thursday, November 9th from 5- 7 p.m. at the Old Courthouse Museum!.

Up Hill Both WaysUp Hill Both Ways: One Room School


As pioneers and homesteaders came to South Dakota, they brought with them a desire to educate their children. Many had come from eastern states which already had universal, free public education, and families took with them the wish for the same opportunity for their children in Dakota Territory.

The history of the school system in the region began when the First Legislative Assembly of Dakota Territory met in Yankton on March 17, 1862. That legislature created the public education system with common schools free for children between the ages of five and twenty-one. The earliest school houses were sod houses or buildings of log construction. In Minnehaha County, over 100 school districts built schools from 1879 to 1895.


World War I: The Great War ExhibitWorld War I: The Great War


World War I was considered the war to end all wars.  The war brought technological advances on and off the battlefield and produced weapons that were deadlier than ever before. Developments in engineering, chemistry, and metalworking created unmerciful conditions and saw a transition from animal power to machine power as the primary means of victory. The techniques and knowledge in the field of medicine improved and adapted to the mass destruction of war. Outside the war zone, the home front proved to be a vital artery in the war effort through its sacrifices and undying support of patriotism. In all, the war became an unprecedented catastrophe that affected people around the globe and shaped the modern world.  Click Here for more Information.


George Catlin: Life Among American Indian TribesGeorge Catlin: Life Among American Indian Tribes

George Catlin was a Pennsylvania-born artist who produced two major collections of paintings and a series of books chronicling his travels among the American Indians of North, Central and South America. Working from his interest in America’s ‘vanishing race’, he set out to record the appearance and customs of America’s native people.


Catlin’s North American Indian Portfolio was created from drawings and notes of the author, made during eight years of travel among the most remote tribes of North America. The collection of lithographs is a window into the lives of American Indians in the 1830s.



Falls Fuel – Full Service Gas & OilFalls Fuel – Full Service Gas & Oil

Petroleum has been a daily part of American life since crude oil was refined into kerosene for lamps to light homes during the 19th century. Often called Black Gold, petroleum is used today to make many everyday items such as plastics, cosmetics, tires, and of course gasoline.

Gasoline was once just a by-product in the production of kerosene, but after the automobile became popular in the early 1900s, the demand for gasoline skyrocketed. Over time, gas station design in the United States evolved with changes in drivers, cars, and cities. What once began as a hardware store clerk filling a bucket of gas and bringing it to the car parked at the curb, soon became the gas station we know today. Click Here for more Information.


Protecting the Frontier: Fort DakotaProtecting the Frontier: Fort Dakota

The wild prairies of Dakota Territory lured settlers to start a new beginning on the unknown frontier. A tense period of time in the United States, the Dakota War of 1862, seeped into Dakota Territory, sending settlers into a fearful panic. Rumors of Native Americans on the warpath made the once enterprising pioneers abandon their homes and move to larger cities. The United States Government understood a military presence in Dakota would make settlers feel safe and would encourage others to move to the frontier. Established in 1865 at the current site of downtown Sioux Falls, Fort Dakota was created. For four years, soldiers encountered the trials and tribulations of weather, settlers, and Native Americans. Discover the life at Fort Dakota through first-hand accounts, uniforms, and weaponry used during the infancy of Sioux Falls in the exhibit Protecting the Frontier: Fort Dakota. Click Here for more





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