Old Courthouse Museum Exhibits

The Bottle and the Ballot: Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage

At the Old Courthouse Museum!
Exhibit Opens November 7th

The Bottle and the Ballot: Prohibition and the Women's Suffrage
The Bottle and the Ballot:
Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage

Some may find it surprising that there was a time when consuming alcohol was a crime and women did not have voting rights. In fact, these two issues had been debated for over a century. Both were at the forefront during the Progressive Era, a time of political and social reform in America. Some women saw that the only hope of passing nationwide prohibition was if women received the vote. In South Dakota, women organized groups, published newspapers, and held speaking tours to get both measures passed. Soon after South Dakota passed statewide prohibition and granted women the franchise, the 18th and 19th Amendments did the same at the national level.

Commemorate the centennial anniversary of the 18th and 19th Amendments at the opening reception for The Bottle and the Ballot: Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage on Thursday, November 7th from 5-7 p.m. at the Old Courthouse Museum. Admission is free.

The League of Women Voters will be on hand to answer questions, and the Museum is partnering with the Pink Boots Society and Fernson Brewery for the release of a limited run beer, Tea Totaled, to be tapped at the opening reception. Women in the brewery industry from the region will be brewing this beer together at Fernson Brewery.

Let's Ride: Vintage MotorcyclesLet’s Ride: Vintage Motorcycles

At the Old Courthouse Museum!

By the late nineteenth century, bicycling was an established pastime and competitive activity throughout the world. As the bicycle gained in popularity, innovative entrepreneurs developed new technologies to improve riding. One offshoot of these efforts was the attempt to motorize bicycles. Some of the first motorcycles in the United States were made by Waltham Manufacturing Company in 1899, adapting a heavyweight roadster bicycle to fit a small engine imported by the Aster company of France under the name Orient-Aster. Many other companies followed suit, including Indian, Harley-Davidson, and Excelsior. A legitimate motorcycle industry was booming in the United States, with nearly 100 makers building their own bikes prior to the market crash of 1929. Today, motorcycles are produced for leisure, touring, racing, and the military.

Sioux Falls Municipal BandSioux Falls Municipal Band


In the late 19th and early 20th century, thousands of bands were formed across the United States to play for theaters, entertainment, civic pride, and competition. These bands were popular in their communities, because they did not have to compete against radio or recordings. Sioux Falls had a number of bands like these, but an earnest effort to form a municipal band in Sioux Falls began in 1919. The city election was held on April 15, 1919, and the proposition to form a band passed 2,452 to 2,282. For the past 100 years, the Sioux Falls Municipal Band has played at local events, parades, retirement communities, and of course the Sioux Falls Parks. Learn about the band, directors, players, and more at our latest exhibit. Come to the Old Courthouse Museum for the opening and a performance by members of the Municipal Band on Friday April 5th, 2019, from 5-7 p.m. to celebrate 100 years of music for the people.



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.

Click Here for more Information.

Theaters: Stage to ScreenTheaters: 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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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.

Previous Exhibits