Dakota Discovery Museum


Forms and materials
recall Dakota’s

Sited to complete
a major Campus

Founded in 1939, the Dakota Discovery Museum (DDM) had never enjoyed a year-round home. When illustrator Charles Hargens II died at age 103, his family donated the contents of his studio and a large number of paintings to DDM where the South Dakota native served as an original advisor. The Museum's current board raised 2.2 million dollars for a new museum building sited on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus and invited Gar Hargens, the illustrator's grandson, to lead the project. To minimize construction and operating expenses, Gar based his design on a simple rectangular plan with a large atrium for easy circulation and staffing. Charles Hargens' studio, with its paintings and artifacts, is recreated on the second level. The Museum's facade is inspired by a “false front” hotel seen in a Hargens' painting at the Museum. The exterior uses traditional materials, such as logs, stone, brick and clapboards, found in historic South Dakota architecture.