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The South Carolina State Museum houses a diverse collection of more than 70,000 pieces of art, artifacts, fossils and more. The museum’s collection and permanent exhibits focus on four disciplines which reflect the rich history of South Carolina dating from the pre-historic era to the present.

Iconic museum artifacts are now on display in the museum’s new lobby. These objects were chosen by State Museum curators to represent each of the museum’s four disciplines: art, history, natural history and science and technology.

Interested in donating an object to the museum’s collection? Click HERE to learn more about how the acceptance and donation process works.


Art at the SC State Museum

South Carolina art plays an integral role in the state’s culture and history, both in the past and today. In addition to featuring changing exhibits on South Carolina art in the Lipscomb Gallery, art at the State Museum can also be found throughout four floors of permanent exhibit space, in our planetarium and 4D theater shows and even outside on the museum grounds.

From traditional portraiture and decorative arts to the most up-to-the minute contemporary work by South Carolina artists, the State Museum offers guests a wide variety of art to enjoy.

History Gallery at the SC State Museum

The State Museum’s history collection includes more than 45,000 objects and images related to the history of South Carolina. These artifacts represent the state’s rich past dating back 14,000 years to early Native American cultures through colonial settlement, the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War and into the 20th century.

The museum’s fourth floor gallery traces the history of South Carolina where guests can see examples of Native American pottery, objects owned by early colonial settlers, a replica of the CSS Hunley, a late 19th century schoolhouse, a new permanent exhibit on the Civil War and more.

Natural History Gallery at the SC State Museum

The State Museum’s natural history collection contains three major components: biology, geology and paleontology and documents the history of life in South Carolina. The range of the collection includes arthropods that are more than 500 million years old, 70-million-year-old dinosaur bones, 40-million-year-old whales, 400,000-year-old bones from the Ice Age, and a host of taxidermy mounts of animals that currently inhabit the state.

In the museum’s second floor natural history gallery, guests can travel back millions of years into South Carolina’s past with dinosaur displays, a mastodon replica, a giant model of a pre-historic megalodon shark and more.

Science at the SC State Museum

The State Museum’s science and technology collection includes a very diverse range of objects, like: tools, cars, farm equipment, vintage televisions and radios, kitchen appliances, airplanes and much more. These artifacts represent the development of industry and technology throughout the history of South Carolina and are featured in the museum’s third floor exhibit gallery.

The third floor science area also offers guests a hands-on space to learn about scientific principles, discover important contributions made by South Carolinians like, Dr. Charles Townes and more.

The museum is also home to The Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy, a world-class collection of historic telescopes and astronomical equipment. Many of these amazing instruments are currently on display in the museum’s fourth floor telescope gallery. Learn more about the collection and exhibit.


Online Collections Resources

Learn more about your family heirlooms or search a select group of objects and photographs from the State Museum’s collection courtesy of University of South Carolina Libraries Digital Collections.

Object Information Request
For those curious about their heirlooms, pieces of artwork, objects found while cleaning up, etc. the museum is offers an online Object Information Request Form. Members of the public can submit the form and museum staff will be in touch to help identify objects, find research and offer conservation resources. Click HERE to access the form.

The Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy
This incredibly rare collection of American made telescopes and astronomical equipment, donated to the museum by amateur astronomer Robert B. Ariail, features instruments dating back to 1730. Thanks to a partnership with University of South Carolina Libraries Digital Collections, many of these instruments can be found online. Click HERE to explore the collection.

Standard Federal Photograph Collection

Standard Federal Photograph Collection
Students at the University of South Carolina’s Digital Library created this website of over 140 historic photos of Columbia from the Museum’s collection. Click HERE to explore the collection.

Collections Outreach Manager

Phone: (803) 898-4990


Liaison between the public and the collections department; coordinates all inquiries from individuals regarding donations, information on objects, or other information pertaining to the museum’s collection. Manages the Traveling Exhibits Program and the image usage and reproduction requests.


Phone: (803) 898-4954


Maintains and cares for the collections of the State Museum.

Curator of Natural History

Phone: (803) 898-4946


Maintains the natural history collection, which consists primarily of fossils but also includes Recent mammals, insects, mollusks, and reptiles/amphibians. Expands the collection through mission-based research and donations. Contact if you have questions about SC geology and paleontology, or for requests for specimen identifications.

Curator of History

Phone: (803) 898-4942


Develops history exhibitions, conducts research, and maintains and cares for the comprehensive collection of cultural history artifacts in the museum. Also works on programs for the public as well as answering inquiries about historic objects.

Curator of Art

Phone: (803) 898-4926


Responsible for review of all works of art including fine, folk and other such objects created in South Carolina or made by a native South Carolinian. This includes paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, pottery, quilts, baskets, furniture, sculpture and anything else that is hand-made.

Curator of Science and Technology

Phone: (803) 898-4940


Develops exhibitions related to the history of science and technology, conducts research, and maintains and cares for the comprehensive collection of science and technology related artifacts in the museum. Also works on programs for the public as well as answering inquiries about objects.

Collections Inventory Coordinator

Phone: (803) 898-4955


Responsible for overseeing the IMLS funded project to inventory the locations of museum collection pieces, capture high-quality digital images of each piece, and create updated records in the museum’s collections management system.

Director of Collections


Manages the Collections, Programs and Outreach staff who are responsible for developing and sharing museum content through collections based exhibits and programs.