Mitchell's Corn Palace is a unique building that holds artwork made of strictly corn! These murals are all over the walls of the Corn Palace, both inside and outside. The corn art ranges from simple images to complex works of art. Hours of work are put into making each of these corn images, and they make new ones each year!
Originally established in 1882, the Corn Palace today has become both an outstanding tourist attraction as well as a historical building. It doesn't take a lot of time to see, and entrance is free, so there is no reason why you shouldn't stop in if you're in Mitchell!
We were driving from Sioux Falls west to the Rapid City when lo and behold, the advertising invites us in to see the Mitchell Corn Palace. A building dedicated to corn.
Sure enough the building is covered in dried corn -- picturesque murals made totally of ear corn - inside and out of the Palace. South Dakota is a bread basket -- rows and rows of grains. Halls such as this were used by the community to celebrate the harvest.
Now it is more of a tourist trap, but admission is free and it is awe-inspiring somehow, and when we went there are tours given.
If you're into dolls, this would be a great place to visit. (they have star wars too)
June through September: Daily: 8am - 8pm
March - May and October -November: Monday - Friday: 9am to 5pm
Winter months: By appointment only
More info later...
Mitchell has the one and only Corn Palace in the World. So What?
Well. it's a conference center and exhibition hall. There are stage shows and sporting events. And it's a nifty reminder of how hard the farmers in this region to produce their bountiful harvest. The current building was dedicated in 1921, but the tradition of decorating a building every year with farm produce dates back to the 1890s.
Finished in 1999 the Archeodome was built over the site of one of the earthlodges. It was built to provide a state of the art, year round teaching and research facilitiy. It also provides a place for visitor to watch the researchers at work with out distubing the site. it is believed it will take almost a hundred years to complete the study of just this one lodge. See my traveloge for view of the inside of the Archeodome.
Walk the path across the creek to the entrance of the visitor center. Inside the visitor can view a video about the site, tour a replica of the Indian Earthlodge, and a model of the site as it existed a thousand years ago. There is also a gift shop in the visitors center. From the center, guided tours leave to see the site.
Admission is charged
Hours are 8-6 daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It is also open in April,Sept and Oct. but shorter hours.
Journey back to a thousand year old indian village. The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village represents the remains of a fortified village of native american gardeners and hunters that lived 900 to 1000 years ago along Firesteel Creek, now the shores of Lake Mitchell. The village had about 600 people living in about 70 earthlodges. This site is still being excavated and studied by the staff and students of Augustana College in Souix Falls,SD. They think the village was occupied for about 50 years. After the resources of timber and game animals were gone, they believe they moved further west, probaly to the Missouri river.
If you like dolls, especially old ones, you will like the Doll museum across the street from the Corn Palace. It is a building made to look like a castle.There are many hundreds of dolls dating from the early 1800's to the present. Also buggies, beds and high chairs. Everything from corn husk dolls to Shirley Temple to Barbie and the wives and daughters of Henry the Eighth. There are dolls from many countries, including Germany, England, Japan,and many many others. You can do a quick walk thru or spend several hours. They do allow pictures but no flash. All the dolls are displayed behind glass.
Adults admission is $6. If you don't want to pay you can just look at all the dolls for sale in the gift shop. These are collector dolls not every day play dolls.
There are many murals on the outside of the building as well as inside. They have a farmer who specializes in growing different colored ears of corn to be used for the building. There was only 3 colors but he has devopled new ones so now they have about 7 or 8 to work with. There is a stage and a basketball court inside the Corn Palace. This is where the local high schools play and there has been some very famous people appearing on the stage. In the summer during tourist season, the floor is a big tourist/gift shop.
See my traveloge for pictures of some of the murals on the inside of the building
Beautiful Murals completely made of ear corn. Back in the early days of South Dakota there were Festival halls built in several large towns to celebrate the harvest. The only one remaining is the Corn Palace in Mitchell. And it is on it's third reincaration. Every year the building is decorated with murals made of corn. They hold a festival when the decorating is done for the year. It is usually in Sept. These pictures were taken in June when they were still stripping the grain off from the previous year. This view is of the front of the building. Admission is free and there are tours given. The visitors bureau has a information desk just inside the door.
You are guided along a brick path that leads you along the forification ditch that was protection from wild animals. Then you see the depression that were the sites of the lodges and the rises that are believed to be trash pits. The first 2 lodges were excavated in 1938 as a WPA project by the University of South Dakota.
Right next to the World's Only Corn Palace is a statue shop--about a quarter city block filled with random statues. Open quite often in the summer. No set hours, though. In the winter, should be accessible through the neighboring coffeeshop. Worth a ramble through.
Each year, in the summer, the Corn Palace murals are changed. The abstract decor is changed throughout the summer. The actual murals are changed when the corn is harvested in the fall.
The 2004 murals theme is Lewis and Clark (stapled on the building in fall 2003). The Palace was NOT redecorated in 2002 because the drought made corn scarce.
The designs are made with milo, rye, oat heads and sour dock. The murals are made by drawing the designs on black roofing paper. They then staple halves of different colors of corn onto the building. It's like paint by numbers. They use about 270,000 ears of corn.
There are murals inside made out of corn too. The inside murals are replaced with new corn about every 5 years.
The palace hosts high school and university basketball games, concerts, graduations and other events. During the summer, the main floor of the auditorium is transformed into a large gift shop. Try the popcorn. Mmm.
Big building with lots of corn murals.
Murals inside and out. There is also a history of the Corn Palace inside with photos from every Corn Palace through the years lining the halls.
Info from the brochure:
There's been a Corn Palace in Mitchell since 1892 along with a harvest festival to celebrate the fertility of the land and productivity of its people. The first palaces were wooden buildings without electricity and had dirt floors. The present building was built in 1921 out of steel and brick.