History is like Frankenstein's monster; all it takes to make it come alive is the right education, a large body of artifacts exhumed from the earth, and an electrical storm. Learn from the past with today's Groupon, which gets you a one-year membership to the Charleston Museum in downtown Charleston. Choose from three levels of membership:
- $20 for an individual membership (a $40 value)
- $25 for an individual-plus membership (a $50 value; lets you bring one guest)
- $30 for a family membership (a $60 value)
America’s first museum, the Charleston Museum offers guests a comprehensive understanding of the history behind both the city and the region. Double or even triple your brain’s total mass by soaking it in the knowledge contained within permanent exhibits and galleries. The History of Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry gallery demonstrates the evolution of the area from its early societies through European colonization, and the Charleston Silver gallery lures guests with sundry shiny objects including George Washington’s christening cup, not to be confused with George Clooney's silvery scalp cup. Special exhibitions, such as Threads of War: Clothing and Textiles of the Civil War (through September 5, 2011) further the head-filling fact flood, and the Kidstory exhibit shrinks information to a scale small enough for children to digest without ruining their appetites for dinner.
Individual members of the Charleston Museum receive year-round admission to the museum as well as to the Joseph Manigault House and Heyward-Washington House, domiciles notable for their historical significance, striking architecture, and names, which coincidentally match the names of the people who lived in them. Individual-plus membership grants cardholders the same admission privileges plus the right to bring a friend, and family membership extends the wallet-free welcome to two adults and a household full of future adults (children younger than age 18). All membership levels also include invitations—and, in some cases, free admission—to special events, discounts at the museum shop and on classes and symposia, and a subscription to the museum’s e-newsletter.
- An unusual thing about the Charleston Museum is that it remains in some ways as much an artifact as a collection of them. It's the nation's oldest museum (founded in 1773) fondly referred to as "Charleston's Attic," and part of its permanent exhibit is a museum of itself, recalling the organization's original mission as a window on the world to a pre-mass media audience. – Dan Conover, City Paper
- The full-scale replica of the famed Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley standing outside the museum is one of the most-photographed subjects in the city. The museum also exhibits the largest silver collection in Charleston, early crafts, historic relics, and the "Kidstory" room, which has hands-on exhibits for children. – Frommer's
When the Charleston Museum was founded in 1773, South Carolina was still a British colony. Today, the museum is itself a historical gem, surviving both the American Revolution and Civil War and acquiring an astounding collection of South Carolinian artifacts along the way. Nine permanent exhibits include the Armory, brimming with antique weaponry, and the Lowcountry History Hall, which chronicles the land's metamorphosis from a tribal society into an agricultural empire, telling the story with early trading goods, slave badges, and pottery. Temporary exhibits change regularly, keeping visitors on their toes in the same way changing cell phone numbers every 24 hours does.
The museum extends its history-preserving mission to two area homes: the 19th-century Joseph Manigault House, once home to a wealthy rice plantation owner, and the Heyward-Washington House, where George Washington once stayed during a weeklong visit to the city. Restored rooms, period pieces, and loudly snoring grandfather clocks await guests during scheduled tours.