Collectors of the Pettigrew Museums: Artifacts from Around the World
Why do we collect things? Depending on whom you ask, the answers often vary. Regardless of the reasons, these assortments allow their owners to mold, scope, and ultimately control what these various collections hold.
Historically, collectors came from all different sorts of backgrounds. Some were affluent and had the means to travel, buy, and trade for exotic items. They would often display them in private museums and galleries. Not only were these displays of collectors’ items, they also showed the collectors’ wealth. For curious onlookers, this may have been their only opportunity to see such objects, as traveling to faraway places was a luxury few could afford. However, soon a middle class had the time and money to dedicate toward their own collections. Stored privately at home, these collections may not have been as exotic as others, but were a way people could show their niche interests.
Our latest exhibit at the Pettigrew Home & Museum, Collectors of the Pettigrew Museum: Artifacts from Around the World, explores the pioneering collectors who helped shape the museum. These wide-ranging collections comprised some of the earliest items housed at the Pettigrew Museum.
Building Sioux Falls: 1883-1919
From a young city with boundless resources in 1884 to a growing metropolis in 1919, the city of Sioux Falls was an economy that was greatly diversified. The ambition of adventure and wealth brought people to the young city who were lured by promise and prosperity. The once feeble structures created from wood were replaced by multistoried structures that defined the Sioux Falls skyline. The growing community filled city blocks and became the economic and industry leader in South Dakota. Sioux Falls steadily increased the strength of its position as the financial, commercial, educational, legal, religious and political center of the state.
A Cabinet of Curiosities
A Look at Sioux Falls’ First Museum recreates a vignette of the museum Richard Pettigrew built in 1923, exhibiting artifacts originally displayed in his museum. Mr. Pettigrew’s museum was a conglomeration of objects collected in local archaeological excavations with his brother Fred, objects collected on his travels around the world, and objects traded with other collectors and researchers worldwide. Displaying intriguing pieces such as a walrus skin kayak, prehistoric stone tools, geological specimens, historic guns, and original photos, the exhibit portrays an earlier type of museum, one that showcased objects for their uniqueness rather than as interpretative tools used for educational purposes.