During my summers in South Dakota, I would frequently visit the Black Hills Institute Museum. The building may be small, but don’t hold that against the BHI; it’s absolutely packed with specimens! The museum is located on Main Street in Hill City, SD and is about an hour from The Mammoth Site and 30 minutes from Rapid City, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse.
When you first walk into the museum, it can be overwhelming to see the sheer number of fossils. Stan the T. rex dominates the room, along with cases and cases of ammonites and other vertebrate and invertebrate fossils. Though many of these fossils come from around the world, part of the museum is dedicated to local finds. South Dakota has a rich paleontological history and the BHI takes you through that history. Every time I came back to the museum, I saw something new. For those of you who prefer rocks and minerals to fossils, there is a back room full of them!
I highly recommend the Black Hills Institute Museum. It is difficult for me to describe without sounding redundant because it packs a lot of science into a small space beautifully (it reminded me of an oversized cabinet of curiosities). The average person can get through the collection in about 30 minutes, but I could spend the whole day in there. I wouldn’t normally mention the gift shop, but the BHI gift shop is one of my favorites in the Black Hills. It is nearly as large as the museum itself and is full of geology and paleontology gifts. I am particularly partial to their collection of postcards.