South Dakota Art Museum director to retire after 20 years


Press Release, South Dakota State University Marketing and Communications

After 20 years serving as director of the South Dakota Art Museum, Lynn Verschoor will retire at the close of 2019.

Her passion for art and love of people shines through the museum and her influence is sure to be felt long after she empties her office for the final time.

“I hope I have created enthusiasm, excitement and the idea of having fun around this museum,” Verschoor said.

It has been that enthusiasm for creating an enjoyable experience for visitors and love for art that has kept the job fresh.

“Every morning when I walk in the building, I feel so lucky,” Verschoor said. “I am surrounded by art every day. It’s so invigorating and makes me feel so good. I have the best job in the state, and I get to work with such great people. Plus, every day is different, and you never know what opportunity will come your way.”

Certainly 20 years at the museum have created some very memorable moments, but it’s not extraordinary that Verschoor will miss most—it’s the casual, everyday exchanges she’ll cherish.

“I’m going to miss the people—staff, students, museum guild members,” she said. “Everyone is so kind, helpful and generous. I will miss SDSU staff as well, they have all be extremely helpful, patient and kind. Everyone has been amazing, and I couldn’t have done my job without their thoughtful support. I just love the interaction with people, exposing visitors to the arts and watching them engage is so rewarding. When school groups come in and the children’s eyes light up, it’s magical—the pure joy of discovery.”

Verschoor has also been active in creating the Visual Thinking Strategies program, numerous outreach and education programs across the state and region.

“Lynn has provided outstanding leadership for the South Dakota Art Museum for the past two decades. Under her guidance, the museum has elevated its exhibits, events, and educational programming for both our university and the broader community,” said Dennis Hedge, SDSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I am very grateful for all that Lynn has done to advance an appreciation for art at South Dakota State University and across the state of South Dakota.”

Some highlighted experiences include artist collaborations, the Public Art Program, the creation of a museum studies minor at South Dakota State University, collaborations with the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies, expanding the SDAM collection, Brookings Kite Festival and Harvey Dunn Paint Out.

With the near constant rotation of featured exhibits, programs, outreach and education, funding concerns and just the day to day business of running a museum, the life of a museum director can be stressful, but Verschoor is quick to credit her staff with making her job so joyful.

“We have a professional, hard-working and dedicated staff,” Verschoor said. Everyone gives 110%. We are an extremely lean team, but we function like a well-oiled machine, everyone on staff jumps in wherever and whenever needed. I have also been extremely fortunate to have a wonderful board of advisers. They are so dedicated and generous. We couldn’t do what we do without their counsel, support and enthusiasm.”

Verschoor earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from SDSU, her Master of Science degree in information media and instructional design from St. Cloud State University and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of South Dakota. For the past 30 years, she has exhibited her own art on top of her museum director duties. Her favorite mediums are surface design on fabric, felting and ceramics.

When she came back to South Dakota after working in Colorado and Montana, she was unsure if it would be temporary, but now her two-decade term at the “most rewarding job she could’ve imagined” is coming to a close.

“I had no idea how long I’d be here, but the last 20 years just flew by,” Verschoor said. “It all went so fast and I can’t believe it’s over.”