The Charleston Museum will offer a number of programs to assist community commemoration. The following is a list of the exhibitions and programs we will offer throughout the commemoration. Please revisit this page often as new offerings and details are constantly being added!
This permanent exhibition provides a rich overview of events in and around Charleston from secession to 1865. Including the Federal naval blockade, Union bombardment, social dislocations, privations and five major Union attempts to capture the “Queen City of the South,” the war and its effects changed the lives of Charleston’s residents forever. Their story—one of suffering, sacrifice, initiative and tenacity—is told with extensive images and artifacts from the Museum’s collections. These include uniforms, artillery shells, firearms, “gunboat china,” the watch of a fallen South Carolina soldier, and the recently-acquired prosthesis of Colonel Peter Gaillard, who lost his hand in action against Union forces on Morris Island.
Continuing its commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Charleston Museum presents Brethren, an original exhibition examining artifacts associated with militia units which served in and around Charleston during the Civil War. The exhibit draws from the Museum's weapons, archival and textiles collections, offering a variety of perspectives on local militias, and features a Palmetto Guard flag, c 1861, a German Artillery officer’s sword, photographs, and post-war militia uniforms and accoutrements.
On the afternoon of February 8, 1863 the six-gun sidewheeler Commodore McDonnough steamed up the Folly River and dropped anchor. A small band of soldiers, led by Major General John G. Foster, disembarked onto a narrow strip of dry sand called Folly Island. Slowly thrashing through a jungle of undergrowth and pine woods, the reconnoitered the Confederate positions on Morris Island, just north of Folly. Within a few months, this quiet, largely uninhabited island would become the camp of thousands of soldiers, determined to wrest Charleston from the South. The Union Army had come to Folly Island.
Continuing its commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Charleston Museum presents Blasted: Assorted Projectiles and Explosives of the Civil War. This original exhibition explores the varied and sometimes revolutionary artillery shells and small arms projectiles that were used during this country’s defining conflict. Artifacts on exhibit include a rare Quinlivan shot designed to penetrate Federal ironclads and a two-chambered incendiary shell likely intended for use in Charleston’s defense.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
This special traveling exhibit tells the story of Robert Smalls's daring 1862 escape from slavery, his service to the Union forces during the Civil War, and his political career during Reconstruction.Consisting of narrative panels, photographs, artwork, ship models, artifacts and reproductions which underscore the historical significance of Robert Smalls, this exhibition is an important contribution to Civil War and African American history. Visitors will become more familiar with Smalls's heroic exploits and be inspired by his legacy of bravery, leadership and public service to all Americans. Exhibit highlights include furniture from the house where Smalls lived as a slave, scaled replicas of the CSS Planter and the USS Keokuk, the two ships that Robert Smalls piloted during the Civil War, a replica of the musket owned by Smalls, letters he wrote to dignitaries of his time, and photographs of his house in Beaufort, SC, his family and his descendants through the generations.
Continuing its commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Charleston Museum presents Plotting a Siege: Maps of Charleston in the Civil War. This small, original exhibition will display various examples of the maps held in the Charleston Museum’s Archives that relate to the Civil War. Historical maps, a valuable and fascinating resource, offer us a chance to see our world the way it used to be and this is especially true for the Civil War era. While maps are inarguably an important means of studying this conflict, they are also valued for their beauty. Many of the early pieces were hand-colored and contain unique content making them collectible works of art. Maps produced in wartime are especially distinctive as troop positions and battle information would be hand-drawn onto an existing map to create a truly precious item.
Commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and celebrating the opening of its new textile gallery, The Charleston Museum presents Threads of War: Clothing and Textiles of the Civil War. This original exhibition offers a peek into the lives of those left on the home front and those battling deprivation and fear while raising their families and protecting their property, as well as those fighting on the front lines. Threads of War will illustrate how, as the 1860s marched on, the war took its toll not only in lives lost but on fashion, supplies, and every aspect of life. Women's, men's and children's clothing, uniforms and accessories, quilts, coverlets and flags, along with magazines, newspapers, daguerreotypes and diaries provide tangible images of mid-nineteenth century Charleston and a lifestyle torn apart by war. LEARN MORE...