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Collinsworth Selected to Lead the National Music Museum at USD

Matt Collinsworth, new director of the National Music Museum in Vermillion. Matt Collinsworth will serve as the new director of the National Music Museum starting March 11.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The National Music Museum (NMM) at the University of South Dakota, one of the world’s premier collections of musical instruments, is delighted to announce the selection of Matt Collinsworth as its new director. Chosen after a nationwide search, Collinsworth will assume the duties of director March 11, 2019.

Collinsworth currently serves as the interim executive director of the Lexington (Kentucky) Art League. Prior to that, he served for 15 years as director of the Kentucky Folk Art Center (KFAC) at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. Collinsworth helped grow KFAC from a small, regional institution into a nationally recognized museum with a reputation for producing groundbreaking exhibitions, many of which traveled across America. Additionally, under his direction, the museum’s collection grew by 400 percent and programming and facilities were significantly enhanced. Concurrent with his tenure at KFAC, Collinsworth served as Morehead State University’s senior director of Outreach, Preservation and Education, providing oversight for both Morehead State University Public Radio and the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music.

As an experienced university administrator, Collinsworth understands the importance of fully integrating museum programs into campus and community life. He appreciates both the challenges and opportunities of running a rurally located museum.

“Vermillion is a wonderful community, and USD is such a fine university," said Collinsworth. "I am very excited about the role the museum will play in bringing visitors and attention to the community and university. The National Music Museum houses one of the finest collections of its kind in the world. We not only have the opportunity to create a world class museum facility, but we also look forward to creating an exemplary museum program that puts people at the center of everything we do.”

Larry Schou, dean of the College of Fine Arts at USD and chair of the advisory committee, hired Collinsworth, upon unanimous enthusiasm of the committee.

“We were all impressed with Matt’s versatility as a museum leader," Schou said. "He brings experience in all the areas where the museum is now focused: raising money for operations and capital projects, developing its national board of trustees, involving students and faculty in museum activities and growing and implementing programs that serve diverse audiences locally, regionally, internationally and online.”

The museum has completed its capital campaign to build a new wing for the museum, and construction is set to begin in the summer of 2019. The board has already raised more than $9 million and the City of Vermillion recently pledged $700,000 for the expansion project. Additionally, the Vermillion Chamber and Development Company agreed to build a new off-site collections facility for the National Music Museum, built as a lease-to-own cooperative effort. Collinsworth will spearhead the effort to raise the remaining funds needed for new exhibits, the new Preservation Center and strengthening the endowment.

“It is a distinct honor for me to be invited to join the distinguished staff at the National Music Museum and to work with such a supportive board and university administration," said Collinsworth. "My family and I are very excited to become part the community. The National Music Museum has the potential to take on ambitious and aspirational projects that serve and attract audiences in our home region and even across the world."

Collinsworth holds an M.F.A. from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College.

Collinsworth will begin his post on March 11, 2019, taking the reins from Interim Director Dennis Acrea, who led the museum through the transition period from December 2017 to February 15, 2019.

The search review and advisory committee was chaired by Dean Schou and included six other trustees, staff and stakeholders: Nate Welch, Ford Bell, Jo Wohlenberg, Peggy Banks, Rachael White and Michael Suing. For the national search, USD retained Marilyn Hoffman and Connie Rosemont of Museum Search & Reference, an executive-search firm located in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Boston that specializes in placing museum leaders.

For additional information contact Larry Schou, D.M.A., at or 605-658-3444.


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.


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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News