PIERRE, S.D. – With a passion for music and collecting, Arne (AHR’-nee) Larson compiled one of the greatest collections of musical instruments, including some of the rarest in the world. For that, Larson is known as one of South Dakota’s Great Faces.
Larson’s passion for music started at a young age. He began collection instruments at 16. After graduating from the Minneapolis College of Music, Larson taught music in Minnesota. He moved his family and collection of instruments to Brookings, S.D., in 1943 to accept a job as Head of the Music Department in Brookings Public Schools.
Larson taught piano lessons on the weekends to pay for the travel required to find rare instruments. He soon created a network of people all over the world who helped him track down instruments, and he rarely paid more than a few dollars for an instrument.
Larson’s home eventually contained more than 2,000 instruments, and he started looking for a place to display them. He accepted the job of professor of music in 1966 at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. In 1979, he donated his instrument collection to the State of South Dakota, and the National Music Museum at USD became the new home for Larson’s instruments.
Today the museum features a self-guided audio tour that gives guests the opportunity to see and hear about the many rare and special instruments. The museum also harbors a concert hall dedicated to the performance and recording of historical instruments, study areas, a library, a conservation laboratory, and the recently installed D’Angelico/D’Aquisto guitar-making workshop.
The National Music Museum also hosts live demonstrations and concerts, as well as brown bag lunch performances from September through June.
For more information about the National Music Museum, visit www.nmmusd.org
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight people who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly in the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.