Pages Navigation Menu

COLLECTIONS

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.

 

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.

 

Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy

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 search the online 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.

 

 

 

 

Chief Registrar

Phone: (803) 898-4954

Email: michelle.baker@scmuseum.org

Manages artifacts and specimens that the museum owns or has on loan. Contact if information is needed regarding previous loans/donations to the museum; artifacts on exhibit; requests for conservation; general questions about storing artifacts; donation of objections, if curators are not here.

Curator of Natural History

Phone: (803) 898-4946

Email: dave.cicimurri@scmuseum.org

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 Science & Technology | Director of Education & Collections

Phone: (803) 898-4944

Email: tom.falvey@scmuseum.org

Responsible for science and technology as well as Windows to New Worlds-related assignments.

Curator of History

Phone: (803) 898-4942

Email: joann.zeise@scmuseum.org

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.

Chief Curator of Art

Phone: (803) 898-4941

Email: Paul.matheny@scmuseum.org

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.

Planetarium Manager

Phone: (803) 898-8406

Email: liz.klimek@scmuseum.org

Manages the museum’s 55ft digital dome planetarium, presents planetarium shows and helps develop educational components to the planetarium.

Observatory Manager

Phone: (803) 898-4918

Email: matthew.whitehouse@scmuseum.org

Manages the museum’s state-of-the-art observatory as well as developing educational programs and plans.