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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.  

Carolina Knives: The Roots of a Revival                July 22, 2021 to December 22, 2021  

This Diverse Voices gallery exhibit showcases over 100 examples of utilitarian and decorative knives by Carolina knifemakers. It also will feature select examples of both manufactured and custom-made knives and blades forged outside the southeastern United States and in regions of Africa with strong blacksmithing traditions that informed the history of knives in the Carolinas prior to World War II.

Hyphenated: The Works of Dan Hernandez and Arturo Rodriguez                                               September 13, 2021 - October 22, 2021  

 This fall, the School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) is partnering with the McKissick Museum to showcase the works of Dan Hernandez and Arturo Rodriguez at the University’s museum. Both of the artists in this exhibition are identified culturally as hyphenated Americans (Rodriguez, Cuban-American and Hernandez, Mexican-American). While the exhibition does not expressly examine these identities, or the social connotations associated with being hyphenated, it does explore the concept of converging cultures more broadly. A central aspect in both artists work is the act of connecting disparate cultural parts. The work presented in this exhibition relies heavily on appropriation and collage/montage. Both artists work with a variety of borrowed imagery ranging from video games to pre-renaissance painting (Hernandez) and from cartoons to American home décor (Rodriguez). In their working processes, both artists combine these source materials in different ways to create new visual forms. Much like hyphenated words, these forms function as the product of their parts, but also suggest new meaning through their unique composition. The technical processes of both artists can also be described as “hyphenated”. Hernandez’s work often bridges the gap between digital and analog processes and Rodriguez’s work crosses boundaries from printmaking, to painting and drawing.

The Shell Game: Unraveling Molluscan Mysteries                                                                             July 19, 2021 to December 18, 2021  

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

The word “hyphenated” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “being and individual or unit of mixed or diverse background or composition.” 

Each year, the School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) invites visiting artists to campus to exhibit their work and share their ideas, influences, research, and motivations with students, faculty, and the public. This fall SVAD is partnering with the McKissick Museum to showcase the works of Dan Hernandez and Arturo Rodriguez at the University’s museum. 

Details coming soon. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.