Founded in 1773 and commonly regarded as “America’s First Museum,” The Charleston Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
The Museum continued to develop prominent collections of ethnological and zoological specimens, which Harvard scientist Louis Aggasiz declared in 1852 to be among the finest in America. Operations were temporarily suspended due to the Civil War, but began again shortly afterward. Progressively acquired since the late 18th century, the Museum’s collections now represent the most comprehensive assemblage of South Carolina materials in the nation. Focusing on the South Carolina Lowcountry, modern collecting emphases include natural history, historical material culture and both documentary and photographic resources.
The South Carolina Lowcountry has always been home to a cast of eclectic, unconventional characters – scholars, scientists, scribes, and socialites, revolutionaries and world travelers, collectors, curators. They have been lovers of the established and experimental, the rare, beautiful, odd and unusual. Our history is a blend of beauty and pain, grace and war, great storms and calm seas.
We are a melting pot of cultures and customs, remade with each changing tide. We are writers of a never-ending story that asks life’s most essential question: Who are we?
The search for the answer is our reason for being. So, we dig into attics and archives. We pore over ancient artifacts, journals, and albums. We study, document, preserve, interpret, and share.
We do it for the electric joy of discovery. The stories and humanity revealed. But perhaps even more, we do it for what it inspires within us. The thoughts that ask us to rethink our past and our place in the world. The thoughts that spark a conversation not just about who we were, but who we are – and who we can be.
We are all a story. And our story starts here.