The Gibbes Museum of Art, which opened in 1905 after a benefactor, James Gibbes, donated money to the city of Charleston for the museum’s completion. Part art museum, part cultural & educational center, and part art studio, The Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston showcases Charleston through visual arts throughout the centuries.
Gibbes Museum of Art
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Address: 135 Meeting St
Admission: Purchase timed tickets here
Hours: Click here for up to date hours
Parking: Nearby, Charleston County Parking Garage
Handicap Accessible: Yes
This museum shares the history of Charleston, one of the oldest and, at one point, the wealthiest city in the nation. Through art, the museum acknowledges that Charleston would not have existed as it does now, with vast collections of art from around the world, without the contributions of enslaved people upon whose backs the immense wealth of Charleston was built.
The first floor of the museum is free and open to the public. This show includes interactive exhibits, the museum’s shop, and rotating works of art from Southern artists. The second and third floors require ticket purchases to view. Some of the displays on the second and third floors are from Charleston resident contributions, and others are on lend from other museums around the world.
One of the unique things about this museum is its Visiting Artist Program. Selected artists, both famous and up-and-coming artists, display their work at the Gibbes Museum of Art and hold studio hours at the museum. During studio hours, the artists work in their own studios, on the first floor, to create new works of art displayed in the museum. Visitors are encouraged to stop in and watch the artists at work.
I was most impressed with their substantial collection of ornate marble busts. Some were so detailed that I could see the individual threads of woven garments and individual strands of hair.
My husband loved the current collection of antique furniture. We learned that Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV had some of their cabinetry handcrafted in Charleston and then shipped to France for use in the Palace of Versailles. If you were uncertain how famous and world-renowned Charleston’s art scene was, this is a great example!
Overall, we loved visiting this museum. We spent about an hour and a half here, pursuing the displays. I wish we could have seen the new exhibition which started just after our departure about Asian Art, but we will have something new to look forward to on our next visit. If you love art, you won’t want to skip visiting The Gibbes Museum of Art!
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