The National Museum of Wood Carving (12115 Hwy. 16, 605/673-4404, www.blackhills.com/woodcarving , June–Aug. daily 9 a.m.–7 p.m., May and Sept.–Oct. daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., closed in winter, adult $8, child ages 5–15 $6, child under 5 free) does not quite live up to its name, but it is oddly compelling.
The museum was originally created to honor the works of Dr. Harley Niblack, a Denver chiropractor who, at the age of 42, took up carving and animation with a vengeance (he is reputed to have worked with Disney on animation projects).
The museum has 30 of Niblack’s wood-carved dioramas on display, as well as some of the machines that he designed to animate them. The pieces reveal a rather strange sense of humor on the part of Niblack (for example, a somewhat grotesque depiction of a patient in a dental chair), but the detail in the pieces is interesting.
The original intent of the museum, to house the Niblack collection, has been expanded to include a number of other contemporary carvers. Visiting woodcarvers are frequently on-site for demonstrations. Wood carvings can be purchased at the gift shop.