Rotating Historical Exhibits at CWS

Member choruses of the Norwegian Singers Association of America on parade during Sangerfest in Chicago in 1940.

Member choruses of the Norwegian Singers Association of America on parade during Sangerfest in Chicago in 1940.

The Center has several display cases throughout the galleries that exhibit materials on a variety of changing themes. Many are currently related to World War II, in conjunction with the Center's recent Dakota Conference on the regional impact of the war. The current exhibits are:

World War II Morale Posters from the Sioux Falls Army Air Forces Technical School

Between 1942 and 1945, around 45,000 men and women received training in radio mechanics at an Army Air Forces Technical School in Sioux Falls, SD. This case displays several morale posters created by the school's Drafting and Reproduction Division. The posters were designed by local base personnel and reflect their attitudes about international events as well as the radio mechanics training students received. They were donated by the family of William B. Mauschbaugh, a leader in the Drafting and Reproduction Division at the Sioux Falls school.

Sometimes the Stamps Tell the Story: Postage Stamps of the Third Reich

Militaristic and anti-semitic propaganda was all-encompassing in Nazi Germany. This display features examples of an often-ignored form of propaganda, one that was fully controlled by the government and reached millions of citizens on a daily basis – the postage stamp. The unused 1942-1945 stamps in this exhibit were donated by Veronika Lakstigala, a native of Latvia who experienced both the Soviet and Nazi occupations of her country during the war years.

Native American Use of the Swastika

Seventy years after World War II, the swastika symbol continues to evoke an automatic response of revulsion for its connection to the Nazi regime and the horrors of the Holocaust. But the symbol has actually been used for millennia to signify well-being, good luck, and abundance in various cultures. This exhibit explores pre-war Native American use of the symbol with artifact examples from the Blue Cloud Abbey-American Indian Culture Research Center Collection.

Native American Observations of Weather and Climate

The Center for Western Studies is the first location to debut this new interactive traveling exhibit produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey. The exhibit discusses the history of Plains Indian winter counts and how scientists today are using symbols from historic counts to improve our understanding of the region’s climatological past. The content is most fitting, given that a reproduction of Red Horse Owner's winter count is prominently featured in the Center's Froiland Plains Indian Gallery. Collections Assistant Liz Thrond and Education Assistant Kristi Thomas also assisted the project’s staff, based at Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Data Center, with the research and design of the exhibit. 

"Brother-Singers": The Norwegian Singers Association of America

Male choral singing has a long tradition in Norway, dating back to the 1840s when several male singing societies were formed to offer opportunities for song and fellowship outside of the church realm. Norwegian immigrants brought the practice with them to the United States and choruses formed within pockets of high Norwegian settlement – the northeast, the upper Midwest, and the northwest. Performing Scandinavian music, the choruses served as important links for immigrant participants and audiences to their native home. As choruses developed, so did national organizations aimed at fostering cooperation among them. This exhibit of documents, photographs, and artifacts explores the history and purpose of one such organization, the Norwegian Singers Association of America, which was established in 1891. This summer, the organization is hosting its 61st biennial Sangerfest (singers festival) in Sioux Falls!

Tossing Their Hats in the Ring: Political Campaign Memorabilia of Yesteryear

In honor of this year's exciting election season, this exhibit features a selection of political campaign memorabilia from the Center for Western Studies collections spanning the years 1860-2008. There are materials representing party platforms, particular issues, and specific candidates at the national, state, and county levels. There are materials from winning campaigns and from losing campaigns. But all received support from American citizens who cast their votes in hope of a better future.

The Sioux Falls Municipal Band

Founded in 1919 by the citizens of Sioux Falls with a self-imposed tax, the Sioux Falls Municipal Band is currently in its 96th consecutive year. This exhibit examines the history of the band, including the integration of women performers in 1964, the contributions of long-time member Paul Hoy, and the development of programs that have become staples in the band’s schedule since 1966–the Children’s and Circus Concerts. The historic materials come from the Sioux Falls Municipal Band Collection archived at the CWS.

Nature versus Technology: The Bison and the Industrial Revolution

Together with a bison fur coat originally owned by Yankton photographer Louis Janousek, this exhibit discusses the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the once vast bison herds of the Great Plains.

There are exhibits on permanent themes in addition to those listed above.