Museums of Columbia South Carolina
The museums found in downtown Columbia South Carolina are truly a main highlight of the area. Each museum has something to offer visitors every day of the week, with seasonal and rotating specialty showcases to offer regular visitors something new and exciting to see and/or experience. Regular residents and new residents will always find visiting one of the local museums enjoyable and exciting.
The South Carolina State Museum is probably the best known of the museums in the area. It includes four floors of beautifully designed displays that provide information on the history of the State, which includes art throughout the history of the State or that depicts life throughout the history of the State. A favorite of kids is the dinosaur exhibit, as well as the giant replica of the pre-historic megalodon shark. In the recent past, several new and exciting additions have been added. A much needed addition to the Columbia area is the Planetarium and Observatory to teach visitors about the Carolina sky and beyond and to offer individuals the opportunity to see through a magnificent Clark telescope into the night sky. To expand on this fabulous addition has been the inclusion of a display depicting the history of the telescope. Also added to the museum was a 4D theatre that is being enjoyed by children and adults alike. The museum also has regular changing exhibits as well as traveling exhibits, so there is always something new to see. And no visit to the museum would be complete without a visit to the terrific gift shop that has a wonderful collection of books about every possible topic related to South Carolina. Also for sale are trinkets for the kids and beautiful artwork by local artisans. Whether you are new to the area or a long time resident, you can never go wrong with a trip to the South Carolina State Museum!
Next door to the South Carolina State Museum is the local children’s museum, EdVenture; but don’t be fooled that this museum is for kids alone. With 350 different displays, children and adults alike will find something enjoyable to do or something exciting to learn. One of the main highlights of the museum is Eddie, the giant child that allows visitors to walk through the inside of this display in order to learn about the human body and how it works. The museum also has a workshop where children can develop or design something of their own creation and a Critter Garden where visitors can learn about the life of a butterfly and experience butterflies in flight during the warmer months. There is even a cooking lab where children can learn about cooking and the importance of healthy eating. Although these are just a few of the many things that can be experienced when visiting the museum, young and old alike can enjoy the nationally renowned EdVenture Museum.
In the heart of downtown Columbia is the Columbia Museum of Art, another great Columbia attraction. Housed here is artwork covering a variety of periods and artists showcasing a vast variety of artwork to include paintings, sculptures, glasswork, pottery, and even beautifully designed woodwork. A favorite surprise of all new visitors is the display of Renaissance and Baroque art donated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. This display is just breathtaking and is something you will definitely return to see again and again. Included is a fresco by the legendary Florentine artist, Botticelli, the only piece found outside of Italy. Visitors will also see work by Claude Monet and Frederick Remington, a beautiful display of Chinese porcelain, even a Duncan Phyfe sofa, just to name a few of the wonderful things that can be seen. In addition, there are always rotating exhibitions to add variety and additional enjoyment to the museum visit. With all there is to see, you can rest assured that a visit to the Columbia Museum of Art will not leave you disappointed.
A lesser known museum that is just as awe-inspiring is the McKissick Museum on the University of South Carolina campus. This museum is filled with a variety of items that can occupy a visitor for days. Included is a collection of southern traditional crafts that have been researched to identify the traditions connected to each. It is this collection that led to the formation of the Folklife Resource Center at the museum. Another great collection is the natural sciences collection that includes a magnificent collection of gemstones and minerals that you could spend hours viewing. The museum also has a wonderful fine art collection that covers the history of the University Art Department faculty works as well as those of local artists. In addition, the museum also has a tremendous material culture collection of quilts, dresses, and political memorabilia just to name a few of the items on display. With the inclusion of the ever changing rotating and traveling exhibits, it will be easy for visitors to see why this museum is truly one of Columbia’s greatest hidden treasures.
Finally, one of South Carolinas oldest museums built in 1896 is the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. This museum covers the military history of the State from the Revolutionary War to the present. Visitors will see rare and one of a kind artifacts, along with military cultural items are on display that cover all of the major wars. Educational information is also included to teach visitors about each of the wars and how they impacted the area now known as South Carolina. The museum also has a growing archival collection available to researchers by appointment for those interested in historical research. The museum also has a gift shop that offers a variety of items that any historical enthusiast would enjoy. With this museums constant growth and ever changing exhibit galleries, visitors young or old will always find something new and exciting to learn at this wonderful museum filled with South Carolinas military history.
Each of the museums in the Columbia, South Carolina area has something to offer not only visitors and newcomers to the area, but long-time residents as well. With the rich variety of museums in the area and their ever changing and traveling exhibits, there will never be a lack for something to do. No matter what the season or the weather, these Columbia treasures will always have something to offer.