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W. H. Over Cultural Museum

1110 Ratingen St.
Vermillion  South Dakota  57069
United States
(605) 677-5228
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Midwest Living Review

Doug Clough
Interesting exhibits about Vermillion don't make up for the dust, poor lighting and unhelpful reception at this museum.

The W.H. Over Museum of Natural and Cultural History, named for the assistant curator of the University of South Dakota Museum, offers interesting artifacts from Vermillion's (and South Dakota's) past. But, in many ways, it feels like the museum that time forgot. We arrived to find the lawn unmowed and weeds crawling out of bushes to obscure part of the museum's sign. At this point, we weren't even sure it was open, but the doors were unlocked, so we went in. A woman at the front desk was talking on the phone and didn't acknowledge our presence. (At least we didn't have to pay; the museum is free.) Many of the museum's lights were turned off. In the museum, a thick layer of dust covered most of the exhibits, and some of the signage was DIY, printed on an old dot-matrix printer. The organization was slapdash, with out-of-place artifacts and no clear separation between exhibits. However, the exhibits were varied, and could appeal to a wide audience. History buffs might like an exhibit on Lewis and Clark's South Dakota experience, specifically focusing on nearby Spirit Mound. For gun enthusiasts, there are more than 100 firearms on display, from frontier-era to modern-day models. Other exhibits cover elephant bones, the business of broom making and the museum's namesake, W. H. Over. But no matter how informative or unique, we couldn't get past the state of the museum. Give this museum a pass, and check out the Austin-Whittemore House Museum instead.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Since our last visit in 2011, this museum has made upgrades. We'll send an editor back to review and update this listing with our discoveries. 

Visited: 
June 25, 2011

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