Old Courthouse Museum Exhibits



What was your favorite toy growing up? Was it a stuffed animal, a cherished Barbie doll, or a heroic action figure? Regardless of the toy, that question undoubtedly conjures up childhood memories of past toys. In our newest exhibit Toys, we take a look at all types of toys from the past. Maybe you’ll spot your favorite!

Children have been playing with toys for thousands of years. The earliest known playthings were sticks, balls, and carved figurines of people and animals. They were used to teach children cultural values as well as how to use weapons for hunting and warfare. Cultural and technological shifts over time changed the way people used toys. They became instrumental in childhood development; toys could both educate and entertain children.

Toys will open on Thursday, November 29th, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. Come take a look at toys through the ages at the Old Courthouse Museum with museum staff, food, and drinks. Admission is free!

Tonics & Tools of Medicine

Tonics and Tools of Medicine

No one likes being sick or hurt. That same sentiment is as true today as it was in the late 1800s. The early settlers of Sioux Falls were no different, but they had a much different outlook on their health than we do today. The people of the nineteenth century relied on doctors, drugstores, and some home remedies to get better. What has changed are the ways they operated. Doctors promoted themselves as versatile experts in multiple fields, and drugstores were local one-stop shopping places for prescriptions and ingredients for home remedies. Without twenty-first century technology, early medical professionals relied on basic tools and different practices to treat their patients. Though the technologies and practices have changed in the medical field, some methods have remained the same. Enjoy examining early Sioux Falls medicine and the instruments that helped keep its citizens healthy.

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TipiThe Tipi

With a nomadic lifestyle and survival dependent on buffalo, many Native American tribes relied on the tipi. Tipis provided shelter that was sturdy enough to endure the elements of nature but also easy to transport.

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Theaters: Stage to Screen

Theaters: Stage to Screen

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.

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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. Click Here for more Information.

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.

Previous Exhibits