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Smithsonian Exhibition Highlighting Rural Innovation Comes to South Dakota

May 4, 2024

No matter where they live, people are problem solvers. To demonstrate just how true this is in rural America, SDHC is bringing the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street Spark! Places of Innovation traveling exhibition to five South Dakota communities in 2024 and 2025.

Spark! Places of Innovation highlights how innovation has shaped small towns across the country. The exhibition examining the ingenuity and tenacity of rural America opens at the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte on Saturday, May 18, and continues through March 2025. The complete schedule is available below and at

Featuring stories and images from more than 30 communities across the nation, gathered through a crowdsourcing initiative, Spark! explores innovation in rural America from the perspective of the people who lived it. Through photographs, hands-on interactives, objects, and videos, Spark! reveals the leaders, challenges, successes, and future of innovation in each featured town.

SDHC is proud to host Spark! in South Dakota, said SDHC Interim Executive Director Jennifer Widman.

“The exhibition is a celebration of creativity in all its forms,” she said. “When people hear the word ‘innovation,’ they might not immediately think of rural areas, but our communities are constantly developing unique solutions for their own particular challenges. We’re excited to share the Smithsonian’s national perspective on rural innovation, along with the relevant local programming developed by each of our host sites.”

Designed for small-town museums, libraries, and cultural organizations, Spark! will serve as a community meeting place for conversations about innovation. With the support and guidance of state humanities councils, these communities will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs, and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about their own history, the joys and challenges of living rural, the impact of change on communities, and goals for the future.

This exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host organizations. Spark! was inspired by Places of Invention, an exhibition developed by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. To learn more about Spark! and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit

For more information on Spark! in South Dakota, visit or call the SDHC office at 605-688-6113.

Spark! in South Dakota
Dates/Host OrganizationAddress/Contact Information
May 18 – June 29, 2024 Cheyenne River Youth Project702 4th St. Eagle Butte, SD  57625 (605) 964-8200
July 6 – August 17, 2024 Rapid City Public Library610 Quincy St. Rapid City, SD 57701 (605) 394-6139
August 24 – October 5, 2024 Centennial Stone Church Center48 Fourth St. SE Huron, SD  57350 (605) 352-2528
October 12 – January 11, 2025 Dacotah Prairie Museum21 S. Main St. Aberdeen, SD 57401 (605) 626-7117
January 18 – March 1, 2025 Great Plains Art Institute at Sinte Gleska University381 E. 3rd St. Mission, SD 57555 (605) 856-8123

Learn more about humanities programming in South Dakota by signing up for SDHC e-Updates!