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.
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.
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.
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.