Mines News

Release Date Thursday, March 12, 2020

SD Mines Museum of Geology Receives Highest National Recognition

RAPID CITY, SD (March 12, 2020) — The South Dakota School of Mines & TechnologyMuseum of Geology has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies and to the museum-going public.

The Museum of Geology consists of two distinct but interrelated components: the public museum and the James E. Martin Paleontology Research Lab. The Museum’s mission is to explore the natural history of Earth through scientific inquiry, to preserve specimens and data as a dedicated repository for scientific research, and to promote understanding of geoscience through outreach and educational efforts.

The public floor of the Museum of Geology is located on the campus of South Dakota Mines, on the third floor of the O'Harra Building. (Campus Map)

The Museum has been collecting and displaying new specimens since 1885. It features mounted skeletons of dinosaurs, mammals, marine reptiles and fish, as well as dozens of rare fossils from the White River Badlands arranged in time-specific dioramas. Its mineral displays include the Hall of South Dakota Minerals, meteorites and a fluorescent mineral room. Admission is free and guided tours for groups are available.

The 33,000 square-foot Paleontology Research Lab (PRL) provides a safe, environmentally controlled location for the Museum of Geology’s paleontological, geological and archival collections. The PRL currently holds over 500,000 specimens and enhances research-intensive educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate curricula, particularly in the Department of Geology & Geological Engineering, including the only MS degree in Paleontology in the nation.

Alliance Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for over 45 years, the Alliance’s museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and remain financially and ethically accountable in order to provide the best possible service to the public.

“The Accreditation Commission especially commended the Museum of Geology for its state-of-the-art collections facility, partnerships with agencies through the state and experienced leadership that follows best practices. The Museum of Geology staff are truly dedicated to advancing the mission of their unit and of South Dakota Mines,” said South Dakota Mines President Jim Rankin.

Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, over 1,070 are currently accredited. The Museum of Geology is one of only four museums accredited in South Dakota. The others are Washington Pavilion of Arts and Sciences in Sioux Falls, South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings and the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs.

Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation, a museum first must conduct a year of self-study and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. The Alliance’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, considers the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura L. Lott, Alliance president and CEO. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.”

The Geology Museum is open to the public Monday through Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. during winter hours, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day).

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About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,529 students with an average class size of 24. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $63,350. Find us online at sdsmt.edu and on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat

Contact: Lynn Taylor Rick, (605) 394-2554, Lynn.TaylorRick@sdsmt.edu