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 side deal to the South Carolina State Museum Foundation in Columbia. Choose from the following options:
- For $17, you get a one-year individual membership, good for one adult, plus four guest passes (a $35 value).
- For $30, you get a one-year family membership, good for two adults and dependents age 18 and under, plus eight guest passes (a $60 value).
The South Carolina State Museum's collections host more than 70,000 artifacts in four major disciplines: South Carolina art, natural history, science and technology, and cultural history. Along with quenching their scratchy-throated thirst for knowledge amid the long-term exhibits, patrons can marvel at the changing exhibits. The current star attraction in the blockbuster gallery—the kid friendly Animal Grossology—explores animal biology through fun hands-on components. Members will have to pay to get into the exhibit ($5 for adults, $3 for children ages 3-12; children 2 and under are always free), but admission to this blockbuster event is free during a select Member Day. Otherwise, stop off at the gift store, where members receive a 10% discount, or wander the halls of the four-story former textile mill looking for their mischievous pet orangutan. Each membership option comes with full member benefits, including free general admission for one year, a variety of discounts, and free admission to signature events such as the kilted revelry of Tartan Fest in April.
- Hands-on exhibits, realistic dioramas, and laser displays make for exciting browsing through South Carolina's past, from prehistory to the present. – Frommer's
- The State Museum is absolutely one of the best museums I have ever visited. They have a wonderful display that chronicles the natural history of South Carolina as well as telling the story of the people that call South Carolina home. – JonLugoff_SC, TripAdvisor
South Carolina State Museum Foundation
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.