Dahl Arts Center
Also downtown is the Dahl Arts Center (713 Seventh St., 605/394-4101, www.thedahl.org, summer Tues.–Fri. noon–8 p.m., Sat. and Sun. noon–5 p.m., winter Mon.–Wed. and Fri. 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs. 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 1–5 p.m., adult $2.50, child free).
In the mid-1970s, Arthur E. Dahl commissioned artist Bernard Thomas to paint a 180-foot-long, 360-degree cyclorama depicting 200 years of American history. Dahl was a prominent banker in Rapid City and his intention was to gift the cyclorama and the building it was housed in to Rapid City.
Bernard Thomas was a Western artist born near Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1918. He was very active in mural painting and painted several in the Wyoming region, though the Dahl building is the only art in the round that he created.
The cyclorama was an extremely popular art form in the late 19th century. Painted in a circular space, cycloramas were usually designed to provide a panoramic view of a historic scene battle or site. The form eventually fell out of favor and only a few of the original cycloramas remain.
The Dahl cyclorama is an unusual and interesting return to an art form from an earlier time. Today, the Dahl has been expanded to encompass three separate galleries, a children’s interactive gallery, a 250-seat event center, and art classrooms, in addition to the Thomas mural.
Exhibitions at the galleries are rotated on a regular basis and are eclectic in nature. The event center hosts literary events and music and theater presentations.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition