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McKissick Museum

  • Woman photographs a costume from the exhibit "Well Suited"


Our exhibitions reflect the museum’s broad, interdisciplinary approach, educating visitors about the diversity and richness found throughout the South. Find out what you can see, learn and experience on your next visit. 

Physical Exhibits

Close-up of University Mace

Invitation to Explore

This exhibit gives visitors an introduction to the many types of objects that McKissick Museum collects, including university history, fine art, southeastern folklife, natural history, and more. Visitors can also see the University’s mace and medallion, which are on display when they are not in use at commencement ceremonies. This exhibition is changed out annually to rest objects that have been on display and to highlight new acquisitions.  

The Artists Inside Outsider Art           November 8, 2021 to March 5, 2022

Outsider art can have many definitions, but most agree that it includes forms of creative expression that exist outside accepted cultural norms or the realm of “fine art". Primarily self-taught, these "outsider" artists create on the fringes, using bright colors and utilitarian materials like wood, clay, and metal to craft their messages. "The Artists Inside Outsider Art" will feature well-known self-taught southern artists like Thornton Dial, Bessie Harvey, and R.A. Miller. 

Inheritance: Sustainable Farms of the South      January 10 to July 15, 2022  

Brett Schenning’s photographs aim to capture the hope that drives southern sustainable farmers. Hope that they will succeed in raising foods to nourish people in their communities. Hope they their hard work will both bear fruit and enable them to pay their bills. Hope that the ways they farm will ensure that the land will continue to support future generations.  These photographs present select southern farms that differ in many ways, but are united in their stewards’  belief that sustainable agriculture can make the world a better place.

Wild Bees: Photography by Paula Sharp & Ross Eatman                                                          January 10 to July 15, 2022

When most people think of bees, they picture the hives of honeybees. Honeybees, however, are a single non-native species among thousands of native bees that inhabit North America. Our native bees pollinate our vegetable and fruit crops, backyard gardens, fields, and woodland trees. The exhibit Wild Bees showcases a collection of stunning macro photographs by Paula Sharp and Ross Eatman depicting the world of America’s native bees.

The Shell Game: Unraveling Molluscan Mysteries                                                                             July 19, 2021 to March 5, 2022  

For the last three years, our Historic Southern Naturalist (HSN) Project has been digitizing thousands of specimens, documents, and artifacts in significant historic collections at the A.C. Moore Herbarium, The Charleston Museum, McKissick Museum, and South Caroliniana Library. McKissick Museum's historic shell collection has been part of this effort. For decades it was believed that this collection of mostly snail and clam shells had been donated by noted amateur Charleston conchologist, Willian G. Mazyck. Recent research through the HSN project confirmed that the collection was amassed by 19th-century naturalist Lewis Reeves Gibbes, Mazyck's cousin, and mentor. After his death in 1894, Gibbes' daughters sold the collection of more than 4,300 shells to the university and Mazyck organized and identified the specimens. This collection of snails, clams, oysters, and other molluscs have now been digitized and can be found on display in The Shell Game: Unravelling Molluscan Mysteries located in our 3rd-floor lobby gallery.

Specimen of Coal

 Natural Curiosity:  The University of South Carolina and the Evolution of Scientific Inquiry in the Natural World  

 Explore your own “natural curiosity” in this exhibit that highlights the treasures of nature, and the evolution of the field of natural history.  Visitors can learn from  authentic objects or use newly installed touchscreens to dive deeper into McKissick collections and explore the lives of Historic Southern Naturalists. 


Digital Exhibits

Child's Play

Showcasing a wide range of toys—everything from teddy bears and Barbies to Lincoln Logs, Legos, and Nintendo 64--Child’s Play will be both a walk down memory lane and an invitation to consider the serious business of play for children and adults. The exhibit mines the many messages we send and receive with toys—especially messages about social norms. 

Piece by Piece: Quilts from the Permanent Collection

Since the 1980s, McKissick has documented and celebrated quilting traditions, produced several publications, and developed programs exploring the topic. The quilts in this exhibition illustrate the evolution of this textile tradition over the past two hundred years. From the early use of chintz fabrics to the widespread popularity of solid colors, these quilts reflect traditions with roots in Europe, Africa, and the American South.

Folded paper dolls of President Ronald Reagan

A Laughing Matter

This new digital exhibit from McKissick Museum surveys the use of humor in an array of objects produced for American political campaigns from 1896 to 2016. "A Laughing Matter" contains a variety of political memorabilia. Some of the humor is light-hearted and good-natured. Some of it can be seen as quite dark, having misogynist, homophobic, and even violent overtones. It is a hopeful sign of the times that we now recognize when—from some Americans’ perspectives—political campaign materials meant to be funny in their day, were perhaps not all that funny. Still, as the old saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine.” 

3 women in front of horseshoe

A Woman's Right Part 2

Utilizing original research from Guest Curator, Dr. Jennifer Gunter, Director of the South Carolina Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation, this exhibit continues in a digital space. Part 2 of "A Woman's Right" features the stories, objects, photos and more from the fight for women's rights from World War II to the present. 

three women in front of a building

A Woman's Right Part 1

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, McKissick Museum planned a spectacular two-part exhibition entitled "A Woman's Right." This exhibit set out to uncover the challenges and triumphs of women at UofSC. While the museum is closed, curators have been hard at work creating a digital catalog of the 1st part of "A Woman's Right". This downloadable pdf contains the exhibit's original text panels, photographs, captions and more! 


Upcoming Exhibits

When most people think of bees, they picture the hives of honeybees. Honeybees, however, are a single non-native species among thousands of native bees that inhabit North America. Our native bees pollinate our vegetable and fruit crops, backyard gardens, fields, and woodland trees. The exhibit Wild Bees showcases the works of Paula Sharp and Ross Eatman, a collection of stunning macro photographs depicting the world of America’s native bees.

At the root of Brett Schenning's photography is hope, from sowing the first seed through the last day of harvest. Hope underpins every effort the farmers devote to the land. Hope that their hard work will bear fruit and pay the bills for themselves and their families. These photographs present selected southern farms, that differ in many ways but are united in the belief that sustainable agriculture, through conscientious environmentalism, can make the world a little better for future generations.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.