Larson to retire as Director of National Music Museum

VERMILLION, S.D. -- André P. Larson, Ph.D., Executive Director of the National Music Museum and Professor of Music, announced that he will retire from the Museum effective Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Larson has served USD and the National Music Museum for 39 years developing the institution he founded in 1973 into an internationally-renowned museum for the study of the history of musical instruments. Following his retirement next month, Larson will continue to serve the National Music Museum Board of Trustees in an advisory capacity as they develop expansion and fundraising plans.

“The National Music Museum exists as a result of Andre’s passion for musical instruments, his commitment to fostering the arts in South Dakota, and his unique ability to transform and expand his father’s nuclear collection of 2,500 instruments into an institution of global significance,” stated Tom Lillibridge, chair of the National Music Museum Board of Trustees.

Among Larson’s many notable accomplishments are the acquisition of the world class Witten-Rawlins collection of North Italian stringed instruments, five rare instruments made by Antonio Stradivari, the Joe and Joella Utley Brass Instrument Collection consisting of more than 500 notable high-brass instruments, Johnny Cash’s “The Bon Aqua” guitar made by C. F. Martin & Co., and the guitar workshop of celebrated American makers John D’Angelico, James D’Aquisto and Paul Gudelsky. The National Music Museum’s renowned collections of more than 15,000 American, European and non-Western instruments are the most inclusive in the world making the Museum the premier institution of its kind. 

Additionally, Larson established the Center for Study of the History of Musical Instruments at USD to offer the nation’s only graduate degree in the history of musical instruments – one of only two such programs offered worldwide.  Through his tireless efforts, the National Music Museum has achieved national accreditation from the American Association of Museums and attention from the world’s most prestigious researchers and scholars.

“Through Dr. Larson’s talent and dedication, the National Music Museum is now a world class museum that, as Chair of the National Endowment of the Humanities Jim Leach recently noted, ‘represents a wonder not just of music but of civilization’” added James W. Abbott, president of The University of South Dakota.

Download a photo of Larson.