To educate Charleston area residents and visitors about the natural and cultural history of the South Carolina Lowcountry through collections, exhibitions, preservation, conservation, research and related programming.
Founded in 1773 and commonly regarded as “America’s First Museum,” The Charleston Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Inspired in part by the creation of the British Museum, the Museum was established by the Charleston Library Society on the eve of the American Revolution and its early history was characterized by association with distinguished South Carolinians and scientific figures including Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Reverend John Bachman and John J. Audubon.
The Museum continued to develop prominent collections of ethnological and zoological specimens, which Harvard scientist Louis Aggasiz declared in 1852 to be among the finest in America. Operations were temporarily suspended due to the Civil War, but began again shortly afterward. Progressively acquired since the late 18th century, the Museum's collections now represent the most comprehensive assemblage of South Carolina materials in the nation. Focusing on the South Carolina Lowcountry, modern collecting emphases include natural history, historical material culture and both documentary and photographic resources.