Digitizing Collections and the Historic Southern Naturalists Project

Museums are repositories for a wide variety of historical artifacts, works of art, and objects of scientific significance. Despite many of these objects being made available to the public, even more are either not suitable for exhibition or are too fragile for handling and must be kept in storage. These objects are often the subject of research which attracts academics from all over the globe. As technology has progressed, more and more of these objects are being made available for both researchers and the public alike via the Internet. The Charleston Museum’s collection is no exception, with an increasing number of specimens becoming available on our online catalog by the day.

The Charleston Museum has been making great strides in digitizing our collections with more than 11,000 entries already available to the public from 14 different collections. These available entries include vital object information and ID numbers, photos, and in some cases, 3D models of the original object. The online catalog is at the forefront of the digitization efforts at The Museum. By making these entries available online, the public can browse objects normally in storage and people around the world can have a better understanding of the historical and scientific importance of the Museum’s collections.


In 2018, The Charleston Museum began a partnership with the McKissick Museum to digitize the collections of well-known southern naturalists. This includes physical specimens, such as the herbarium specimens within the Lewis R. Gibbs collection, as well as correspondences between these naturalists and others within their field. The end goal of this project is to add these entries to both the Museum’s online catalog as well as the dedicated Historic Southern Naturalists website. In keeping with the Museum’s goals of digitization, this increases the reach of the collections by providing information from our collection to a broader audience.

– Matthew Gibson, Curator of Natural History