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Dwight Vaught Named Director of National Music Museum, Honored to Serve World-Class Institution

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Dwight Vaught headshot Dwight Vaught has been named the director of the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota.
VERMILLION, S.D. – Dwight Vaught has been named the director of the National Music Museum (NMM). He started his new position Dec. 27 and is looking forward to leading the museum into its next chapter as a landmark of American music.
“I am pleased to have been selected as the director of the National Music Museum,” said Vaught. “As a native North Dakotan, it is a pleasure to return to the region after devoting the past 20 years to leading arts organizations throughout the country. I have been aware of the NMM as a unique entity almost since its inception, and the opportunity to play a role in its future as the director – now nearly 50 years later – is a humbling honor.”
Vaught is currently a doctoral candidate in Public Administration at the University of Illinois (UIS) – Springfield. Since 2018, he served as house manager for the performing arts at UIS. Vaught has worked with four universities and several independent non-profit organizations, specializing in arts and humanities programming, outreach, programming, fundraising and facility management. He was special events coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside from 2004-2009, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and director of the Fine Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University from 2009-2016, and interim director at Emory University from 2017-2018. He has also worked with summer fine arts camps and served on boards of directors with national music organizations.
“Mr. Vaught combines energy and a passion for the arts with a substantial background in music and non-profit administration,” said Bruce Kelley, Ph.D., dean of the College of Fine Arts. “I am excited to bring Dwight into our leadership team. I’m looking forward to serving with him and the amazing staff of the National Music Museum as we move into our next phase of development.”
The NMM recently opened its new Lillibridge Wing to the public, which includes the Janet L. Wanzek Performance Hall, the Groves Gallery for Special Exhibitions, the Wohlenberg Administrative Suite and a museum store. It is preparing to reopen the historic wing of the facility, with 12,000 square-feet of new exhibitions, in 2023 – marking the museum’s 50th anniversary.
“Our goals now include completing work on the vast museum collections, envisioning future acquisitions, creating new exhibits that tell the artistic story and showcase the NMM’s holdings, continuing relationships and building new partnerships with the USD and regional arts communities, expanding the NMM’s outreach and exposure, and securing financial and organizational support mechanisms to ensure the next 50 years of the NMM are as fruitful as the previous half-century,” Vaught said.
Vaught holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education, a master’s degree in Music Theory/Composition, a master’s degree in Arts/Non-Profit Administration, completed coursework in Musicology and a post-master’s certificate as a Certified Performing Arts Executive.
Vaught received a Bush Leadership Fellowship from the Bush Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1999, one of only two people in North Dakota to receive the fellowship at that time. Prior to that, Vaught was a news producer and anchor for a Minot, North Dakota, CBS-affiliate television and radio station. He has built arts and humanities outreach partnerships with commercial and public media and was host of an arts spotlight television program in Illinois for three years. He has been a presenter or co-presenter at two major arts conferences.
The National Music Museum (NMM) located on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, is one of the world’s finest collection of musical instruments, with some 15,000 items in its holdings. The NMM owns some of the most historically significant musical instruments in existence. Founded in 1973, the National Music Museum Inc. is a non-profit entity in partnership with USD.
USD’s College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.
Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


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