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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

Underwater video still of the Lost City captured by Susan Lang using remotely operated vehicle Jason.

The Lost City: Between Art and Science February 1 to May 12, 2023

In September 2018, artist/scientist Dr. Anna Davidson was invited by USC geology professor and oceanographer Dr. Susan Q. Lang to be part of an expedition to study the Lost City as an artist-at-sea. The Lost City is a hydrothermal vent field located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at the bottom of the seafloor roughly between South Carolina and north Africa. They spent a month aboard the research vessel Atlantis and used a remotely operated, deep-submergence vehicle to collect samples and record video on multiple cameras. Based on her experience of being at sea and the documentary video footage, Davidson created a body of artwork about hydrothermal vents and the threats deep-sea mining poses to them. This exhibit juxtaposes Davidson’s artwork with scientific specimens and data collected by USC researchers to ask what visual art and science disciplines share, and how  artists and scientists might support each other’s work.

Hand holding small artists book.

Textural Language: Artists Books and the Crafting of a Distinct Art Form              December 10, 2022 to May 10, 2023

Featuring 21 artists books from the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, this student-curated exhibition explores how artists books challenge traditional conventions of literature and its physical forms. From accordion books to postcards, to “mini-sculptures” and card decks, each artists book represents a small yet impactful example of artists who question form, technique, and imagery to create unexpected works of art that emphasize a new way of defining and engaging with books.

Intricate sweetgrass basket with beading

Sewn Through Time: Sweetgrass Basketmakers Reimagine a Tradition            August 11, 2022 to April 21, 2023

Basketmakers have sewn baskets in the South Carolina Lowcountry since the 17th century. The tradition has been preserved at the hands of the Gullah-Geechee people, descendants of enslaved West Africans trafficked to North America. For over 300 years, basketmakers have transformed baskets from a plantation tool into an art form. Today, basketmakers continue to leverage heritage tourism to make a living, to advocate for the preservation of the ecosystem vital to the tradition, and to experiment with scale, form, and materials. This exhibition traces the evolution of sweetgrass baskets in South Carolina, highlighting the innovative work of contemporary makers.

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. 

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.  


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! 


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.