Making Sense Of It All: The Museum Of Visual Materials

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As an artist, relationships with galleries, patrons, collectors, and the many other varieties of art enthusiasts become just as important, if not more so, than the created work itself. Creating art and showing it in a gallery space is not, in the least, simply about making money. Exhibiting works of art creates communication with the world outside of the studio. The artist and the gallerist share a certain level of involvement and appreciation with the art. –JAM blogger Jordan Thornton

Downtown Sioux Falls is rich with beautiful, historic architecture. One of the oldest buildings there is home to a non-profit by the name of The Museum of Visual Materials. A few days ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna at the MoVM. Our morning was filled with hot coffee, a tour of the museum, and a conversation that shed light on the vision behind the museum.

The first question I had for Anna was not one that required much research, but ended up providing the majority of the information I was seeking to learn about the museum.

JAM: “Why is it called The Museum of Visual Materials?”

Anna: “The founder of the museum, Dr. Rose Faithe, named the museum after her uncle Dr. Mathew Faithe’s truck. He had labeled it the “Museum of Visual Materials” and drove around town showing the community the items he had collected throughout his many travels. She also wanted a place where the five senses could be explored.”

We then delved into the where and how of discovering the five senses throughout the museum.


Sight: The art gallery, the reason I had emailed Anna in the first place. The museum alternates artists every two months. Those interested in displaying their work should email Anna at with three images of their work and follow the application instructions. The museum hosts an artist reception for every exhibition.

Taste: The museum has a kitchen and bar area which is primarily used for private events, a bar at artist receptions, and most interestingly, cooking classes. Currently, they’re looking for a chef or a passionate foodie to teach cooking classes.


Touch: When you walk into the main room of the museum, it is difficult to not notice, the large foam blocks alongside the far window, just waiting to be turned into an epic children’s fort. There is also a children’s craft corner the can be utilized at any time. The museum hosts hands-on classes and events for both children and adults. The classes are taught by, according to Anna, “people from the community who want to share their passions and their hobbies with other people.”

Smell: The garden, which may be the first thing that you notice about the museum, is right out front of the museum and filled with all varieties of flowers and other vegetation that is native to the state of South Dakota.

Sound: The last, but most certainly not least, part of the museum I visited before concluding the interview is a hidden gem and small heaven to the music junkies of Sioux Falls. A sound proof room, smelling slightly of wedding cake, that is filled with records and miscellaneous small instruments is located just left of the bar. A local radio station that no longer exists donated thousands of vinyl records to the museum. I felt a bit like a kid in a candy store while peering through the drawers of dusty musical history.

In addition to the tour of the senses the museum provides, the founder, Dr. Rose Faithe, and her family donated objects from their world travels, leaving the museum with a collection of treasures that travel from Egypt and many other corners of the world.

So on your next autumn afternoon downtown, take a little walk down to the corner of 5th and Main and explore the senses at the Museum of Visual Materials.[]


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