While we were staying in the Rapid City area with the intention of visiting Mt. Rushmore we looked around the city and found The Journey Museum. The museum is actually made up of a number of smaller museums. As we first entered the museum we were handed a small electronic device, called sound sticks, that looked similar to a remote control for your TV. Its purpose was a very unique one; as we moved from room to room the sound sticks would pick up the information being broadcast by that particular exhibit or display. It was a very nice way to present their information at each person's own pace. You didn't have to worry if you came in late because it would broadcast the information over and over.We were to learn that the Journey Museum brings together four major prehistoric and historic collections to tell the complete story of the Western Great Plains - from the perspective of the Lakota people and the pioneers who shaped its past, to the scientists who now study it. A 14 minute film begins the journey. The first museum we encountered was the Museum of Geology. In this area we found displays of significant scientific discoveries made by geologists and paleontologists, including the unique rock formations and rare fossilized remains found throughout this region. They had actual rocks that we could touch and handle which really gave us a feel for the area. Next we moved onto the Archaeological Research Center. This area housed collections from thousands of archaeological sites, including materials from excavations conducted at dozens of prehistoric and historic digs all over South Dakota. This area was really a hands-on part of the museum. It allowed us to examine the lives of the early ancestors, from ancient hunters who lived in the Black Hills at the end of the ice age to the mining settlements of the nineteenth century. In addition we could visit an archeological dig, also see and touch artifacts from the last 10,000 years. They actually had an archaeologist who was working on some artifacts brought out from a current dig. There were many interactive displays for "children of all ages" to try their hand at solving the mysteries of the past. Next, was the Sioux Indian Museum. This museum devotes its exhibitions to the past and present creative achievements of American Indian and Alaskan Native artists and crafts people. One of the exhibits was a tepee with a very realistic hologram of a storyteller explaining about her tribe. We were able to travel along a 200 year timeline and watch the epic story of the Sioux nation unfold. We were able to come to understand the historical events that forever changed the Lakota homeland. We would hear first hand from Lakota elders and their descendants how a proud people lived, hunted, played and fought. We heard the legends, of the sacred Paha Sapa (Black Hills), come to life. Last, but certainly not least was the Minnilusa Pioneer Museum. This museum featured a wide ranging permanent collection of objects and artifacts which focus on the region's frontier past and those individuals who played an important role in it. Our journey led us to the not-so-distant past when mountain men, military expeditions and miners first set foot in the Black Hills. Illuminated story walls guided us from the European settlers first encounter of the Black Hills to the historic Battle of Little Big Horn and ultimately to the modern-day reconciliation with Wounded Knee and other historical events. It was interesting to find out how the discovery of gold captured a young America's imagination. Along the history trails we encountered Jim Bridger, General George Armstrong Custer, Wild Bill Hickock, as well as the great Sioux leaders, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and Red Cloud. It was interesting to find out how they all made their mark on history in this area. The time we took for this museum was time well spent. If you get to the Rapid City area to visit Mt. Rushmore, don't fail to stop by this wonderful museum.
If you would like more information
about the museum, check out their website at: http://www.journeymuseum.org.