For years, Dwight Vaught has dedicated his career to studying and embracing the music field. He knew that music and the arts were going to be a big part of his life’s journey, and he continues to follow that course as he embarks on his next journey: the director of the National Music Museum (NMM) in Vermillion, South Dakota.
“I knew when I was going through high school that music and some facet of the arts was going to be my life and my career. I’ve never really deviated from that,” Vaught said.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in musicology, Vaught went on to teach music classes at several colleges and even worked in the broadcasting field for several years. However, he soon found himself trying to decide between two career paths.
“I was at a bit of a crossroads. I thought, if I really want to stay in the broadcasting side of things, I better go with that full throttle. But I thought no, my heart is really in the arts, and I wanted to do everything I could to get back into the arts,” Vaught said.
He later received his master’s degree in arts administration just before he began a Doctor of Public Administration program at the University of Illinois Springfield.
When announced as the director of the NMM, Vaught could not be more delighted to begin sharing his musical passion with the public. He continues to work on the expansion of the museum with several other staff members, including the museum’s deputy director of operations, Rodger Kelly and the deputy director of curatorial services, Michael Suing.
“In many ways, this position is a pinnacle of my background and training and also a great combination of everything that I really care about in the world of the arts. It’s always fun to hang around other musicians and to sense their creativity and see what they’re bringing to their particular positions,” Vaught said.
While still undergoing construction at this time, the NMM is open to the public. From February to July, guests can attend matinees and live performances from several regional artists. In March, the museum will also be hosting a temporary exhibit of one of the most complete Gamelan sets in the world.
“Looking beyond the next six months, our goal is to really get the permanent exhibits and designs built, and a good number of the collection there to represent the purpose of the NMM and get it open to the public,” Vaught said.
While Vaught anticipates the day when the museum can fully open to the public, and throughout the entirety of his career, he has found his passion for music has only grown.
“It hasn’t been a straight trajectory for me,” said Vaught. “It’s been a fairly circuitous route, but it’s been fun.”