SD museum with rare instruments seeks $15M revamp

February 17, 2013 • Entertainment

Cleveland Johnson, new director of the National Music Museum, stands in front of some historic keyboard instruments in the museum’s Abell Gallery, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in Vermillion, S.D. The museum is embarking upon a $15 million expansion to better showcase its more than 15,000 instruments. (AP Photo/Dirk Lammers)

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) — Grammy-winning fingerpicking guitarist Pat Donohue thinks a South Dakota college town of about 10,000 is an unlikely place for a wide-ranging collection of musical instruments that includes saxophones built by inventor Adolphe Sax, a rare Stradivarius violin with its original neck and a Spanish guitar on which Bob Dylan composed some of his earliest songs.

But that’s part of the charm of the 40-year-old National Music Museum, a treasure tucked away in an old Carnegie library building on the University of South Dakota campus.

Donahue, a regular performer on Garrison Keillor’s radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” got to play a 1947 D’Angelico New Yorker guitar and a 1902 black and wood-grained guitar built by Orville Gibson for millions of listeners during a 2006 live broadcast from campus.

“The only unfortunate thing that I can think about it is that not enough people are going to see it because of where it is,” Donohue said. “But then again, that’s one of the things that make it unique.”

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