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History of the Society

Incorporated in 1930, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, educating and celebrating the sculpture and all that it represents while enhancing the visitor experience.

Goals of the Society include building a legacy of stewardship of Mount Rushmore through private philanthropy, volunteer leadership, creation and sale of educational products, and public outreach through partnership with the National Park Service.

Our history is long and rich and nationwide in reach. In 1930, Articles of Incorporation were filed in Washington, DC, to create the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society of the Black Hills. Among the original signers was Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mount Rushmore.

The first fundraising efforts to complete the carving included collecting pennies from school children. Corporate and individual donations, as well as federal appropriations funded work on the sculpture. Mount Rushmore was carved in 14 years, from 1927-1941, at a cost of slightly less than one million dollars.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society operates under an agreement with the National Park Service which allows it to solicit contributions to benefit the Memorial. The Mount Rushmore Society is similar to many of the "Friendsí" organizations affiliated with national park sites across the country. Unlike many of these organizations, the Mount Rushmore Society also has contractual arrangements with the National Park Service as a cooperating association through the Mount Rushmore History Association and as a concessionaire under contract to finance, construct and operate the parking facility at the memorial. The History Association committee was organized in 1993 and produces and sells world-class educational products, books, videos, etc. to raise funding for Mount Rushmore National Memorialís educational and interpretive needs. History Association bookstores are located at the memorial. It also maintains an on-line store and operates the Mount Rushmore Audio Tour.

In the 1990s, the Society took the lead on organizing and fulfilling a $56 million capitol campaign in order to provide park visitors completely renovated visitor facilities. In 1998, the renovation project was completed and the memorial received new, handicap-accessible buildings and walkways; a beautiful interpretive museum; an outdoor performance amphitheater; and a walking trail. These improvements provide unprecedented access to the sculpture that greatly enhances each visitorís experience.

In 2004, Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society board of directors had a vision for the formation of a Mount Rushmore Institute to advance the ideas of freedom and democracy. In 2005, a committee was formed to prepare a plan to create the Mount Rushmore Institute. Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State and the board adopted the following mission: The Mount Rushmore Institute will provide an environment of learning and dialogue, inspired by the world-renowned sculpture, to advance the cause of freedom and the principles of democracy.

Donations, sponsorships and grants made to the Society support many projects, scientific studies, educational forums and events. Although federal funding provides baseline support for the park, it is not enough for programs and projects that bring new opportunities and positive change for Mount Rushmore and its visitors.

The Mount Rushmore Society, working on behalf of Americaís Shrine of Democracy and one of the world's most recognized symbols, plays a leading role in the protection, education, promotion, and celebration of this national memorial. The Society has been contributing to the success of Mount Rushmore since the beginning and will remain steadfast in shaping the future with the help of citizens and business of future generations.

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605.341.8883     Fax: 605.341.0433
Non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization

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