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Museums in Downtown, Charleston


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  • Charleston Classic
    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.
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    170 Church St
    Charleston, SC US
  • Charleston Pirate Tours
    Eric Lavender is one of very few men in the world who can show up for work each day in a pirate costume and expect to keep his job. The licensed guide and professional storyteller, who has been featured on networks such as the Travel Channel and SCETV, also has an unconventional coworker—Captain Bob, a chatty blue and gold macaw who perches on his arm. Sometimes aided by other guides in pirate and colonial garb, he introduces visitors to lesser-known aspects of Charleston's more than 300-year history on walking tours to National Historic Landmark buildings. During his signature pirate tour, Eric divulges stories of buccaneer revelry and crimes, such as Blackbeard's harbor blockade, or unveils local spooky legends and pieces of Gullah lore on his ghost and pirate tour. Eric also leads custom walking tours and teaches children about pirate lore and city history through his educational programs. Sabrina Lavender and companion Doozer, a yellow-naped Amazon, are also on hand to guide travellers around Charleston, learning about local landmarks and history.
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    79 Cumberland St.
    Charleston, SC US
  • Carolina Art Association
    Since 1905, the Gibbes Museum of Art has stimulated corneas and cortexes with its exhibitions, educational programs, and its collection of more than 10,000 art objects. Its collection includes Southern- and Charleston-based works from the Colonial period through the present day. Steer brainwaves on a creative course with a family membership, which grants two listed adults and all listed children and grandchildren under 18 unlimited admission for one year. Membership also includes a subscription to Signature, the Gibbes tri-annual magazine; free or reduced educational programs and special events; a 10% discount at the Museum Store, with special member-shopping days; and reciprocal admissions to museums throughout North America. Indulge an art-based dream with today's deal without the hassle of wearing nothing but black turtlenecks and constantly snapping your paint-flecked fingers.
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    135 Meeting St
    Charleston, SC US
  • The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
    Import-and-export building. Horrifying prison. Place of freedom. Site of the slave trade. Though The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon is but one building, it has served all of the above functions. Built in 1771, the original Exchange was a storehouse for a slew of goods that were to be sent abroad, and those that had arrived on American shores. The passing years saw its confines house the selling of slaves, and as the American Revolution became more and more fierce, a prison for Colonel Isaac Hayne. Blackbeard the pirate spent many months raiding the ships that carried Exchange goods from the harbor, including the hair dye that kept his obsidian beard from showing its blonde roots. Today, the restored building acts as a museum, showing visitors the life led by early Americans vying for independence from England. Artifacts from the country's early years fill glass cases and rooms alongside exhibits detailing historic events. The Provost Dungeon, located in the building's basement, draws visitors of all ages into its darkened corridors, enabling them to feel a small, chilling portion of the dread its prisoners must have felt.
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    122 East Bay Street
    Charleston, SC US
  • South Carolina Maritme Heritage Foundation
    Charleston Harbor Fest delights locals and tourists alike with a surfeit of maritime merriment and educational opportunities. Ogle the fleet of tall ships, many of which can be boarded for up-close inspection and lively debates about whether it's more fun to shout "hard a-starboard" or "abandon ship." Cabin boys and girls will prefer on-shore attractions such as the energetic Kid?s Zone, where they can build a model boat, learn to tie nautical knots, and practice their land-swimming. Additional hands-on activities await in the Education Village, which promotes watershed awareness and sustainability by painting rain barrels and dying bandanas with local natural dyes. Re-convene the clan in time for the Parade of Sail at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
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    10 Wharfside Street
    Charleston, SC US
  • Children's Museum of the Lowcountry
    The Children's Museum of the Lowcountry is an adventurous outpost for the developing population demographic. The museum currently hosts eight different exhibits, giving kids who are sick of increasingly hallucinatory children's TV programming an exciting educational outlet. The medieval creativity castle brings the Middle Ages to life through storytelling, monthly puppet theater, and passageways for hands-on exploring. The 700-square-foot TREEscape makes a playground out of an Angel Oak and a conversational partner for young tree whisperers. In addition to the exhibit octad, the museum holds free programming with topics that change monthly. Science, history, culture, and more are covered by the programs, putting young museum goers on the path to becoming the 21st century's first true renaissance men and women, not withstanding Renaissance Faire workers.
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    25 Ann St
    Charleston, SC US

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