The Journey Museum and Gardens

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The Journey Museum & Learning Center
Red Turtle Logo
Journey Museum Logo
The Journey Museum and Gardens is located in South Dakota
The Journey Museum and Gardens
Location in South Dakota
Established May 18, 1997
Location Rapid City, South Dakota
Coordinates 44°05′12″N 103°13′07″W / 44.086552°N 103.218591°W / 44.086552; -103.218591
Type Historical
Visitors Estimated 75,000-80,000 in 2008
Director Troy Kilpatrick
Public transit access City View Trolley stops at door of museum, Rapid Ride's Lincoln Bus Route stops at corner of block.

The Journey Museum and Gardens is a museum in Rapid City, South Dakota, USA with 7 acres (28,000 m2) of gardens. It is set up as a journey through the history of the Black Hills, starting with the Native American creation stories, moving into the 2.5 billion years of history in the rock record with the geology exhibit, paleontology, archaeology, Native American inhabitants, and concluding with the pioneers that traveled west.[1]

Exhibit galleries[edit]

Geology and paleontology[edit]

The Geology Gallery contains a wall that shows a 2.5 billion year rock record of the Black Hills area. The Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology provides artifacts and information for patrons to better understand the timeline. Along with the geology section is the paleontology section with fossils, much of which is on loan from the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, South Dakota. A model of an on-site dig with a tent provides patrons with a sense of field work, sometimes with a retired paleontologist working in it who can answer questions. A model of a T-Rex and a Triceratops accompanied by a roaring sound track are also included in the exhibit.


After the Geology and Paleontology exhibits is the Archaeology Gallery. This gallery is split into five sections, according to time period. It is divided into five sections listed in the chart below. The Archaeology Gallery contains artifacts and information from The South Dakota Archaeological Research Center.

Dates Section
7500 BC Paleo-Indians
7500-1500 Plains Archaic
1500-900 Plains Woodland
900-250 Plains Village
250-50 BC "Historic"
In front of the museum

Sioux Indian Museum[edit]

The Sioux Indian Museum, the next gallery after Archaeology, contains 5,500 pieces regulated by the United States Department of the Interior's Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Most of the collection is from the collection of a Native American arts collector who owned a trading post on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. This part of the collection was collected from the 1890s to the 1930s. The Sioux Indian Museum contains beaded items, ceremonial items, traditional Native American clothing, an exhibit of items made from animals, kids items (such as dolls and games), instruments, Native American saddles, and tipis. There is also a holographic Native American elder who tells three stories.


The Minnilusa Pioneer Gallery is the final gallery in the timeline layout of the museum. This collection has a trapper's cabin, a board walk, saddles that you can try out, a hardware store modeled after the first major hardware store in South Dakota, and several story boards with information and artifacts about the pioneer days. It features famous local legends such as Jim Bridger, General Custer, Wild Bill Hickock, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Red Cloud. It also covers the interaction between Native Americans and early settlers during the period from the first encounters to the modern day reconciliation.

Adelstein Gallery[edit]

The Adelstein Gallery is a free gallery. Every few months the exhibit in the gallery changes. Sometimes the gallery will contain exhibits put up by outside entities, or contain an exhibit relating to the current time of the year. The exhibit usually relates to the local area. Common exhibit themes have been artwork or cowboy/rodeo items, but it ranges far beyond these. It can also be rented by individuals or groups for private or public events.[2]

Small exhibits[edit]

The Journey Museum has several side exhibits either inside or between the main galleries.

  • Star Room: A self-guided tour begins with a "Star Room" which represents the time between the forming of the universe and the forming of the rock record in the Black Hills.
  • Custer's Black Hills Expedition of 1874: This exhibit is located between the Sioux Indian Museum Gallery and the Pioneer Gallery. Photos and artifacts from the expedition such as a gun, eating utensils, a stirrup, a canteen and stopper, and a knife. This exhibit also features information and artifacts about the expedition's geologist, Newton Winchell, including his journal from the expedition.
  • Aviary Room: The aviary room is located off the Hardware Store in the Pioneer gallery. It contains just over 9 dozen stuffed birds and animals from the Black Hills area. These were collected by Henry Behren from 1888 to 1911 within 25 miles (40 km) of Rapid City.
  • Flood exhibit: The Flood Exhibit is located at the end of the Pioneer Gallery, just past the storywalls. The flood of June 9, 1972 was a key event in the history of Rapid City and the Black Hills, as it destroyed a large part of Rapid City and either killed, injured, or left homeless thousands of Rapid City residents. Created as a memorial for this event, this exhibit contains maps, pictures, survivor testimonies, news articles, and information about recovery operations for the flood on a touch screen display. It also has a short film that loops regularly that visitors can watch.
  • Black Hills Forests Then and Now: This exhibit is located at the end of the Pioneer gallery, right next to the flood exhibit. This exhibit covers the changes that have happened in the forests in the Black Hills over the past 11,000 years. It also talks about how we have used it as a natural resource during the past 500 years when humans occupied the area.

Activity tables[edit]

There are regular activity tables in every gallery that children and adults can enjoy. These have coloring pages, books, and activities relating to the gallery it is in.

Grounds and gardens[edit]

The museum is surrounded by several acres of western native gardens maintained by a variety volunteer gardeners from the area. The gardens are created with the intent to feature indigenous plant life from the local Black Hills area and other plants found natively in the Western Hemisphere. The large garden area is split up into several small gardens wrapping around the museum. Various gardens contain vegetables, flowers, and trees.


The Journey Museum holds several regularly scheduled events. Additionally, they also have many special events that they book through the year, like a sculpting class for children or a presentation on how to make gingerbread houses.[3]

Family Fun Days[edit]

Every third Sunday of the month, the Education Department holds a two hour event from 2-4 pm about a particular topic for children in grades K-5 and their families. This event usually includes a movie about the topic, a presentation, and a craft. For example, in August 2008 they had the Dog Days of Summer, with a 23 minute film in the theater, a presentation with a search and rescue dog, and a craft making toilet paper roll puppies. Admission for Family Fun Day is included in regular museum admission or free for museum members. The admission allows you to visit the main museum exhibits.[4]

Museum Theater[edit]

Throughout the year, the Journey Museum Education Department puts on several plays in the Wells Fargo Theater. These are part of the Museum Theater Productions produced by the Journey Museum. Past plays have involved topics such as the Flood of 1972 and Pioneer Women.[5]


As part of the mission to further natural history, several education programs operate through the museum.

Children's Library Lab[edit]

Located in the Archaeology portion of the museum, the Children's Library Lab opened on July 1, 2008. It is a center for classes and various drop-by activities throughout the week. The drop-by activities available include books, puzzles, videos, CDs, puppets, microscopes, and discovery boxes. Discovery boxes are small boxes with activities, information, and objects relating to a certain activity. These are made for certain age ranges from 3 years of age to 13 years of age. You can check these boxes out and take them with you into the rest of the museum. The Children's Library Lab also has over 200 new children's books to read.[6]

Adult classes[edit]

The Journey Museum has a few teen and adult classes that they run throughout the year, such as classes on how to use your GPS,[7] training (for volunteers),[8] and Lego Mindstorms NXT robotics classes and seminars.[9]

Here is an example of the structure of one of their classes as posted on their website:

NXT Robotics Seminar Schedule
Days Topics
Day 1 Build Robotics, Computer Software Play, and Behaviors
Day 2 Programming Basics, Zig-Zag Challenge, and Calibrating the Sensor
Day 3 Going the Distance, Touch Sensor Basics, and Light Sensor Basics
Day 4 Four Side Challenge, Intro to Loop, and Challenge Loop to Loop
Day 5 Line Following, Challenge, and The Fork Be With You
Day 6 Sound and Ultrasonic Sensors, Final Challenge, What's Up Dawg, and Graduation

Education materials[edit]

The Journey Museum has several different types of educational materials available. Primarily, the museum's education department offers children's books, DVDs, "Teacher Ambassador Trunks," and "Experience Science Kits."

  • Books and videos: The Journey Museum Education Department has over 200 books and dozens of movies, in both DVD and VHS format. These are available to rent for two weeks for three dollars each. The collection of books features a lot of scientific, cultural, and historical books. Many of the videos are about topics that were used for family fun days in the past.[10]
  • Teacher Ambassador trunks: The museum has a group of teachers on staff that are current teachers at a school in the Rapid City area. This group is called the Teacher Ambassadors.[11] The teacher ambassadors have created curriculum trunks with all the materials that a teacher would need for a unit on a particular topic. The cost is usually ten dollars, and teachers rent them for 2–4 weeks, depending on the particular trunk (Some take longer to go through with a class).[12]
  • Experience Science: Experience Science is a series of elementary science modules designed to cover all of the major content areas in Life, Earth, and Physical Science. Each module includes a comprehensive teacher guide, hands-on activities, and print resources. These kits are created by Houghton Mifflin.
Modules available for each grade level
Grade Life Science Earth Science Physical Science
K-1 Alive Earth Magnets
Matter and Heat
1-2 Organisms Weather Air
2-3 Life Cycles Rocks, Soil, and Fossils Forces, Motion, and Machines
3-4 Aquarium Habitats Space Light
Energy and Matter
4-5 Terrarium Habitats Rocks, Erosion, and Weathering Electricity
Magnets and Electromagnetism
5-6 Classification Exploring Space Chemistry
Human Body Weather and Water

See also[edit]


External links[edit]