Though built in 1893 to manufacture textiles, the Columbia Mills’ storied stone halls now weave tapestries of knowledge with exhibits on everything from lasers and space travel to South Carolina's role in the Civil War. Boasting accolades by Columbia Metropolitan magazine and the Smithsonian, South Carolina State Museum devotes each of its four floors and part of its fourth dimension to art, cultural history, natural history, and science and technology represented by more than 70,000 artifacts.
Through a series of permanent exhibits, curators lead visitors on a cultural and geological voyage. Guests stroll through years of traditional and contemporary art by state artists, marvel at a 43-foot white shark display and full dinosaur skeletons, or cast imaginations back in exhibits on turn-of-the-century transportation, laser technology, and aviation. The museum also excavates the surrounding landscape to present 14,000 years of local culture in Native American tools and colonial-era lifestyle items.
Five galleries also house changing exhibits featuring assemblages of artifacts from Civil War–era Charleston or 300 years of American-made telescopes, each carefully monitored to ensure they contain just the right amount of science. While museum staffers frequently rotate their exhibits, they also host traveling displays and send others on the road through the Traveling Exhibits Program. Various education displays such as interactive children's labs, living-history reenactments, and lectures from visiting scholars further enrich all-ages visitors.
The faculty of local artists at Wine and Design in West Ashley and Mt. Pleasant helps students create works of art in a social, supportive setting with lessons designed for people with no artistic experience. After uncorking bottles of wine and kegs of paint, budding artists spend two hours imitating pros stroke for stroke as they transform canvases into paintings of colorful landscapes and vibrant still lifes. Guests of any experience level are welcome and Wine and Design provides all necessary materials, including paint, brushes, and corkscrews.
In addition to regular classes, Wine and Design offers private parties and Art Buzz summer camp for kids at both Mt. Pleasant and West Ashley. In an effort to paint it forward (Mt. Pleasant and West Ashley), they also donate funds to causes, such as Relay For Life and the MUSC Children's Hospital.
It was February 17, 1864. The USS Housatonic floated in Charleston Harbor atop calm, cold waters. Below the surface, a group of Confederate soldiers sweated bullets as they cranked the propellers of the H. L. Hunley, speeding toward the Union's Housatonic on a historic mission: they would become the first submarine crew ever to sink an enemy ship. A 135-pound torpedo struck the Housatonic's stern, detonating a fiery explosion that sank the vessel within minutes. The Hunley then surfaced just long enough for the crew to flash a blue magnesium light, signaling to fellow forces on the shore that the mission succeeded and the submarine would return. And it did—but not until almost 140 years later, when it was raised from the harbor's sandy bottom on August 8, 2000, after author Clive Cussler discovered the wreck intact.
Today, the leaders of the nonprofit H. L. Hunley Submarine seek to conserve, restore, and ultimately exhibit this historic vessel, as well as solve the mystery of how it completed its mission only to vanish moments later. They welcome visitors to see the submarine in its current condition—within a 90,000-gallon conservation tank—and educate guests on the vessel's many details. Guides walk guests through features such as the manual-propulsion system and automatic moon roof, and illuminate exhibits such as a lifesize model from the TNT movie The Hunley.
Repeating a tradition that went back to their high-school days, three college friends sat on a Capers Island beach, roasting oysters over a cedar fire. They looked out at all the undeveloped land of the barrier islands and the low country, feeling like the sole witnesses to the beauty of pristine nature—and recognized that was a problem. Understanding that both tourists and locals were overlooking these untouched salt marshes and tidal pools, they decided to launch Barrier Island Eco Tours to help instill a greater respect and appreciation in the greater population. After receiving permission from the Department of Natural Resources, and with just a six-passenger boat, they began taking guests out on eco tours, fishing trips, and beach cookouts.
Today, Barrier Island’s naturalists have a fleet of boats for their six eco-friendly adventures such as sunset cruises to see bottlenose dolphins, a wildlife tours of Capers Island, and guided fishing trips for trophies such as redfish, shark, and stealth submarines. They also organize group and special events, from weddings to school fieldtrips.
Culture & Heritage Museums safeguard the Carolina Piedmont's historical treasures and educate residents and visitors about the region's unique past. Instituted in the 1950's, York County's group of affiliated museums and attractions forms a multi-campus network encompassing a wealth of educational opportunities across various disciplines.
Each year, museumgoers view antique documents and photographs at the Historical Center located inside the McCelvey Center. They can get to know more than 1,500 natural specimens at the hands-on Naturalist Center inside the Museum of York County, and march through Historic Brattonsville's 775-acre Revolutionary War site. Locals can volunteer at the museums in fascinating roles, such as specimen preparers, who beautify avian exhibits by helping with taxidermy and surgical beak-lifts.
What began as fewer than 30 paintings hanging in two rooms has since grown into the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery, a collection of more than 400 baroque paintings displayed in 30 galleries. The paintings—works by Rubens, van Dyck, and Murillo that date from the 14th through 19th centuries—are thoughtfully displayed in context, surrounded by furniture, sculptures, tapestries, and popular emoticons from their respective time periods. Architectural elements also add texture to the various galleries, flooding them in colorful light from stained-glass windows or framing their walls with the carved corners of fireplace mantels.
At Heritage Green, a satellite location boasts special exhibits of works pulled from the main galleries or on loan from private and public collections. Up on the second floor, interactive exhibits educate visitors of all ages on works by the old masters.