The Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site off Interstate 90 south of Philip will be collaborating on a new exhibition that will debut at the Cultural Heritage Center in fall 2019.
The new exhibition will focus on the story of establishing the missile field in South Dakota, the Cold War and the present use of the site and surrounding land.
To launch the collaboration, there will be a sneak peek of the new video, “Beneath the Plains: The Minuteman Missile on Alert” Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 7 p.m. CDT, at the Cultural Heritage Center. There is no cost to attend the program, and officials from the museum and Minuteman site will be on hand to talk about the video and the overall exhibit project.
The video will be shown over Labor Day weekend at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, where it will serve as the introductory video for visitors to the complex.
Staff members at both sites are excited about reaching out to new audiences in non-traditional ways.
“This will be the first major exhibition at the Cultural Heritage Center in which we have worked so closely with a national park site,” said State Historical Society Museum Director Jay Smith. “The Minuteman Missile Site has a number of objects necessary to do an exhibit like this that we do not have.”
“We have a small exhibit area at the site and working with the state museum affords us an opportunity to reach out to new audiences who may not know us or the story we preserve,” said Minuteman Site Superintendent Eric Leonard, who has been talking with Smith about a potential collaboration since 2016.
The video will explain how, for a full generation, untold numbers of unsuspecting travelers drove right by a portion of the nation’s nuclear arsenal buried beneath the plains of South Dakota. Here, hidden in plain sight, were underground silos armed with Minuteman missiles—a Cold War technological wonder. Designed to launch at a moment’s notice, the Minuteman was capable of achieving speeds exceeding 15,000 miles per hour and striking a target halfway around the world in 30 minutes or less. Though created to deter war, its destructive capabilities exceeded anything known to previous generations. “Beneath the Plains: The Minuteman Missile on Alert” explores this story with high-definition cinematography, vintage film and TV footage, interviews with historians, and the men and women who operated the system in South Dakota and the other missile fields.
“We are very happy to collaborate with a National Park Service site in South Dakota,” said Jay D. Vogt, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society. “The Cold War is an international story, but the exhibit will draw attention to the South Dakota portion of the story. We are excited to be chosen as the place to launch the new video, and we hope that many people will come out to see it.”
The Cultural Heritage Center museum is open from 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. CDT Monday through Saturday, and 1-4:30 p.m. CDT on Sundays and most holidays. Call 605-773-3458 for more information about exhibits, special events and upcoming activities or visit history.sd.gov.
The Minuteman National Historic Site is open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. MDT except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. More information about the park can be found online at nps.gov/mimi or by phone at 605-433-5552.
About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit www.history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.
About Minuteman National Historic Site
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site's headquarters and visitor center are located off exit 131 on Interstate 90. The park consists of three sites along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 90 in western South Dakota. Authorized by Congress in 1999, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site preserves components of the Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile system, interpreting the deterrent value of the land-based portion of America's nuclear defense during the Cold War era and commemorating the people and events associated with this recent period of American history. The site is open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. MDT except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. More information about the park can be found online at nps.gov/mimi or by phone at 605-433-5552.Visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinutemanMissileNHS and Twitter at https://twitter.com/mimi_ranger.