The city of Charleston, South Carolina is a wonderful place to visit for many reasons. Not only does the city offer a beautiful natural landscape and amazing restaurants, but it is also full of rich historical places and events. Delve deep into the history of the American Civil War, the American Revolution, and the life of early native peoples while in Charleston. For the history buff, there is no better place to visit than the Charleston Museum!
About the Charleston Museum
Often considered “America’s Oldest Museum,” the Charleston Museum was founded in 1773 and first opened to the public in 1824. For nearly 250 years, the museum is dedicated to educating residents and visitors alike about the rich cultural and natural history of South Carolina through exhibitions, outreach, programs, and collections. Charleston has been wrought with both war and beauty, and the museum in Charleston is devoted to displaying it all while inspiring conversation about the history of the city, as well as its future. It also made history as the first museum to hire a woman as the director, during the year
Dive into Charleston’s Storied History
The exhibits and displays in the Charleston Museum are centered on local cultural and natural history, as well as local art. Here, you can see silver work, ceramics, quilts, costumes, furniture, firearms, minerals, and the only known fossil of one of the largest extinct flying bird species ever discovered: the Pelagornis sandersi, an enormous and heavy bird with a wingspan twice the length of the wandering albatross—the current living bird species with the longest recorded wingspan.
In addition to the museum’s fascinating natural history and local arts exhibits, there are also two historic homes located off-site that are included as a part of the Charleston Museum. The Joseph Manigault House is an exquisite antebellum structure built in 1803. This home is a well-preserved example of the lifestyle of wealthy plantations owners and their slaves who lived there. It features early nineteenth century furnishings from England, France, and America housed within a Federal-style home, while the Heyward-Washington House famously lodged President George Washington during his visit to Charleston in 1792. Built in 1772, this was home to Thomas Heyward Jr., one of the four men from South Carolina who signed the Declaration of Independence. This home features the only example of a 1740’s kitchen open to the public, as well as beautiful formal gardens on the grounds.
Charleston Museum features nine permanent exhibitions that give insight into both major historical events and everyday life in the city. In Lowcountry History Hall, view artifacts from the Native Americans who first inhabited the city long before the founding of America, and also view some of the oldest artifacts from European settlers and the African American slaves who helped South Carolina grow into an agricultural powerhouse. In the “Becoming Americans” exhibition, visitors learn about Charleston’s important role in the American Revolution, and the “City Under Siege” exhibit showcases the city’s role in the American Civil War. In addition to exhibitions devoted to major historical events, there are also those that showcase the city’s silver collections, weapons, textiles, natural history, and even an impressive international showcase.
Ticket and Admission Information
Tickets are available for purchase for all three sites of the Charleston Museum. Adult admission is $12 for one site, $18 for 2 sites, and $25 for all three sites. Admission for children ages 3 to 12 is $5 per site, children ages 13 to 17 is $10 per site, and children under 2 years of age are free!
The Charleston Museum is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Monday through Saturday and from 12:00pm until 5:00pm on Sundays. The Heyward-Washington House and the Joseph Manigault House are open from 10:00am until 5:00pm on Monday through Saturday and on Sundays from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. The last tours of these homes are given at 4:30pm.
With the exception of closing for Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and closing early on Christmas Eve, the museum in Charleston and its historic homes are open daily, year-round.
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