Gibbes Museum of Art
Among Charleston’s countless cultural treasures, the Gibbes Museum of Art stands out as a testament to the region’s rich artistic heritage. With a world-class collection of over 10,000 pieces, it is dedicated to showcasing the power of fine art — as historical documentation, inspiration, healing, and nourishment.
Gibbes Museum of Art is known for its wealth of American art related to Charleston, as well as its support for the city’s bustling contemporary art scene. It is a prestigious institution well worth a visit, whether you’re an art aficionado or you simply want to learn more about Charleston’s storied past.
Continue reading to learn more about this important artistic and cultural institution.
Gibbes Museum originated as the Carolina Art Association in 1858. Now, though, it is housed in a classic Beaux Arts building in Charleston’s historic downtown. Designed by renowned American architect Frank Pierce Milburn thanks to a large donation on the part of James Shoolbred Gibbes — after whom it is now named — the museum is a work of art inside and out.
Over the years, the Gibbes Museum has built up a collection of more than 10,000 pieces strong. In addition to its galleries, the museum houses classrooms, event spaces, artist studios, and a museum store, many due to an extensive renovation of the building from 2014-2016.
The history of the Gibbes Museum is closely intertwined with that of the city itself — it harkens back to the 18th century, when, at one point, Charleston was the 4th largest city in the country and the nation’s wealthiest. Then, as the museum writes on the website, was “the City both muse and subject.”
The diverse collection at the Gibbes ranges from distinguished American art of the 1800s to some of today’s best contemporary works. Featuring paintings, sculptures, bronzes, and decorative arts representing the American South and much more, the art here is special for its strong ties to the region. The permanent collection spans more than four centuries, from the colonial era to now; there’s also a parallel miniature collection with hundreds of works that showcases the very first miniature portraits painted in Charleston, one of the most prestigious such collections in the country.
Some artists represented include Henrietta Johnston, the earliest known artist in the English colonies and the first portraitist in the south; Charles Fraser, a miniature portraitist; Merton Simpson, an American abstract expressionist; and George LaGrange Cook, a photographer.
Just a four minute drive or twelve minute walk away from The Pinch Hotel, the Gibbes Museum of Art is easily accessible to all of our guests. The first floor of the museum, which hosts various events and activities, is free to the public, though you do have to purchase tickets to visit the galleries. You can purchase tickets from the website or at the door, but it is recommended that you do so in advance if you plan to visit on the weekend.
The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day of the week, with the exception of Sundays, when it opens at 1 pm. Check the website for more information about holiday hours.
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