Come Celebrate with Us!

America’s First Museum: 250 Years of Collecting, Preserving and Educating

Part 1: December 17, 2022 – June 4, 2023
Part 2: June 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024

Commemorating two and a half centuries since its founding and spanning nearly 4.6 billion years of history, we are pleased to present America’s First Museum: 250 Years of Collecting, Preserving, and Educating in the Historic Textiles Gallery. This exhibition showcases a wide array of objects that tell the story of this impressive institution and its remarkable collections.

Part two will showcase a church pew made by enslaved hands measuring 20 feet in length, centuries old Archaic carved bone pins, a skull from the largest known flying bird and a couture Fortuny gown.


A Historical Timeline of America’s First Museum 1773-2023

On View Now in the Lowcountry Image Gallery

This timeline highlights the rich history of The Charleston Museum from its beginning to the present. Selected events from the past 250 years are showcased using iconic photographs from the Museum’s Archives.


250th Commemorative Volume

The Charleston Museum: America’s First Museum

To celebrate our 250th anniversary milestone, the Museum has published this special volume, The Charleston Museum: America’s First Museum, which documents its history and impressive collections in archaeology, natural history, archived materials, decorative arts, and historic textiles, as well as its preservation of historic landmarks, such as the Heyward-Washington House, the Joseph Manigault House, and the Dill Sanctuary, a 580-acre wildlife refuge on nearby James Island. This handsomely illustrated commemorative volume brings its rich history to life, offering insights into many of its 2.4 million collected artifacts while detailing the contributions of key figures, such as Gabriel Manigault, Laura Bragg, and Milby Burton, who made it one of the premier museums in the southern United States.



250th Anniversary Commemoration of America’s First Museum

featuring keynote speaker Dr. Anthea M. Hartig,
Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

January 12, 2023: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

On January 12, 1773, members of the Charleston Library Society founded America’s first museum, which would evolve to become The Charleston Museum we know today.  Although established to examine the “natural history” of South Carolina, its focus soon took on a more cosmopolitan nature and its collections included objects from around the world. Although it still exhibits objects from its early collections, beginning in 1983, the Museum’s devoted its mission specifically to the natural and cultural history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Today the Museum’s collections, which include over 2.4 million objects, are unmatched in their interpretive value in regard to Lowcountry South Carolina history.

America’s first museum invites the community to join in a celebration of this historic 250th anniversary on January 12, 2023. This momentous event is FREE and open to the public. The evening will begin in the Arthur M. Wilcox Auditorium with remarks from Carl Borick, director of The Charleston Museum, followed by a special keynote speaker, Anthea M. Hartig, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Immediately following, the Museum will host a celebratory reception in the main lobby, which will feature a special anniversary craft beer, 1773 Anniversary Ale, proudly brewed by Holy City Brewery, along with other libations and refreshments

This event is FREE and open to the public with registration. Register online or call 843.722.2996 ext. 235


Nighttime at the Museum 21+

January 13, 2023: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Celebrate The Charleston Museum’s 250th birthday with an evening of adventure at Nighttime at the Museum, the adult version. Explore the galleries after-hours and discover the spicier side of the Museum’s collections. Curators and special guests will be stationed throughout the galleries showcasing some of the less delicate, but highly-entertaining, themes not ordinarily experienced on a Museum visit.  Guests are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite character from history or animal creature from the Lowcountry’s natural environment and beyond. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes will be awarded for best costumes. Winners will be selected by local influencer and stylist, Andrea Serrano. Music provided by Professor Ping. Open bar, featuring a special anniversary craft beer proudly brewed by Holy City Brewery, reception and an evening of historical fun included in ticket price.

$65 Museum Member | $80 Non-Member

$120 Museum Member Couple | $150 Non-Member Couple

Register online or call 843.722.2996 ext. 235


The Charleston Museum’s 250th Birthday Party!

January 14, 2023: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Celebrate The Charleston Museum’s 250th birthday with historical fun for the whole family! In honor of this momentous anniversary, children 12 and under are FREE with a paid adult. Discover special displays and surprises as you explore the Museum with an exclusive birthday themed scavenger hunt, and enjoy Museum history focused crafts and activities. Complete the birthday extravaganza by decorating your own cupcake!

FREE for Members and FREE with admission to The Charleston Museum. Children 12 and under are free with paid adult.