While Pierre works to capture every past governor in sculpture form, Rapid City is dedicated to making sure every United States president has a place in town. The City of Presidents is a series of life-size bronze sculptures of past presidents placed along the city’s streets and sidewalks. Every commander-in-chief up to President Obama can be found throughout downtown Rapid City, and it’s not uncommon to see people posing for pictures (or, in Jimmy Carter’s case, giving high-fives) throughout the city in between shopping, dining, or catching a movie at the Elks Theater, home of the largest movie screen in the state.
Rapid City’s dedication to public art extends to The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind & Water, a collection of 21 granite pieces carved by sculptor Masayuki Nagase and placed in the city’s popular Main Street Square (512 Main St.) to illustrate the changes the region has endured through the passage of wind and water. A more classic collection exists at Dinosaur Park (940 Skyline Drive), where families have been enjoying huge dinosaur statues and spectacular 100-mile views for free since 1936. The five sculptures were a Depression-era project cooked up by the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, who saw them as a way to create jobs and capitalize on the flood of visitors to nearby Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Emmit A. Sullivan is credited as the sculptor—the same artistic genius who created Christ of the Ozarks and the dinosaurs at Dinosaur World in Arkansas. As you continue explore Rapid City, don’t miss the Rapid Trout (1500 West Omaha St.), the Fallen Officers Memorial, and other unique and touching pieces posted throughout the area.
The arts are alive and well in Rapid City. For proof, don’t miss the 180-foot Cyclorama Mural at the Dahl Arts Center (713 7th St.), the creative works at the Suzie Cappa Art Center (722 Saint Joseph St.), the ever-evolving visual art in Art Alley (599 7th St.), the educational art and science exhibits at Apex Gallery (501 E. Saint Joseph St.), and Native American work at Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries (606 Main St.)