The museums of South Carolina are not to be overlooked when planning a visit to the state or any of its cities. From history and art, to education and the outright weird, the state’s museums have gathered the fantastic and wonderful and brought them together in interactive ways. There is a SC museum of interest to every visitor, even those who don’t normally consider themselves “museum people.”
Visitors can expect to find museums appropriate for all ages, as well. Many of the best museums in South Carolina are designed to hold the attention of children, adults, seniors and everyone in between. While a few of the museums set in restored historical sites and take a little extra work to get around for guests with mobility issues, the vast majority of museums make significant efforts to be both physically and financially accessible for everyone. Here are a few of the state’s most popular museums to get your planning started.
Charleston MuseumThe Charleston Museum, often called the Charleston Children's Museum, is the most popular museum in all of Charleston.
South Carolina State MuseumThe South Carolina State Museum is more than just a regular history museum. It houses a planetarium, 4D theater, an observatory and so much more.
Edventure MuseumThe Edventure Museum is aptly named because adults and children alike will be able to embark on an adventure of their own during their visit.
Columbia Museum of ArtDue to the Columbia Museum of Art's hands on approach to art, guests will be able to put their creativity to work in the many activities offered by the museum.
Hollywood Wax MuseumIf you want a fun and zany museum experience, the Hollywood Wax Museum in Myrtle Beach is the perfect place for you.
One of the most prominent museums in South Carolina, the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, often goes by the more casual title the Charleston Children’s Museum or just the “Charleston Museum.” Designed to delight and educate children of all ages, the museum is a study in creative play. Families are encouraged to come dressed to run around, get a little messy and have a fantastic time.
Exhibits and activity rooms are arranged around themes, making it easy to home in on the areas most likely to engage your children’s personal interests. An Art Room allows kids to make all kinds of creative artwork that can be left to dry or set while you explore the rest of the museum. You can also take these works of art home as souvenirs and inspiration for future creativity. Similarly, a Water Room lets kids play with texture, and dozens of other interactive exhibits provide space to run around and dig into age-appropriate lessons and exploration of science, art and nature.
The museum is open every day of the week except Mondays and tickets are good for a whole day, providing flexibility for families with small children. Special events and seasonal programming create extra opportunities for fun, so be sure to check them out before you go!
South Carolina State Museum
The South Carolina State Museum is a showcase of state culture and history that seeks to entertain, educate and inspire visitors of all ages and backgrounds. It does so through a combination of permanent, rotating and traveling exhibits on wide-ranging themes from furniture to space travel. It also features a planetarium, a 4D theater, an observatory and a Discovery Center.
The museum sometimes gets lower billing than it should because it does not neatly fit in the categories visitors expect of museums, such a “history museum” or “military museum.” Instead, the State Museum’s four floors worth of incredible exhibits encompass everything related to the state, from dinosaurs and stargazing, to the wars that South Carolina residents have fought at home and away. This combination gives visitors a rare glimpse into South Carolina that they won’t find anywhere else.
If that alone weren’t enough to get it on your list, the fact that there’s so much to do in one place should be! Whether you are traveling by yourself, with friends or with your family, this museum is one place you’re sure to find something right up everyone’s alleys.
If you have children, you cannot skip Edventure Columbia, SC. It is so much more than a traditional museum. The Edventure Museum combines the interactive exhibits you’d expect from a classic museum with summer camps, seasonal programming and top-of-the-line educational programs to inspire children, young adults and even full adults to become life-long learners and creatives.
Visitors can expect to find exhibits on kid-friendly topics like:
- Popular careers.
Some exhibits even offer kids the opportunity to build and create fascinating things from scratch.
Parents of sensitive or differently abled children who sometimes struggle with traditional museums will be delighted to learn that EdVenture has exhibits, activities and programming designed specifically to meet the needs of children with autism and other conditions, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the museum and its offerings without barriers.
Virtual tours are available on the museum’s website to help families plan their trips, either to avoid pitfalls or simply to identify the best way to make use of their limited time to explore this wonderful museum.
Columbia Museum of Art
If you imagine that art museums are dry, stuffy places, the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA)is the perfect place to discover otherwise. As the CMA itself puts it, the facility “believe[s] in being inclusive and participatory… art is meant to be experienced, not just seen.” The CMA lives up to its promise of inclusiveness and experiential art through activities and programs like Arts & Draughts, a quarterly block party that combines beer tastings, live music, hands-on art creation opportunities, scavenger hunts and delicious food. Similarly, it offers educational series, open studio space for creators, literary programming and other programs and resources that make art accessible to everyone.
Don’t for a second think that all this emphasis on the community is compensation for a lackluster art collection, though! The CMA’s collection is internationally renowned and always supplemented by traveling and in-house temporary exhibits that keep things fresh and new no matter how often you visit.
Hollywood Wax Museum
If you’re a lover of the offbeat, unusual or just plain fun, you won’t want to miss the Hollywood Wax Museum Myrtle Beach. Conveniently located right on Broadway, this museum has something for everyone. Pose for photos with shockingly life-like models of your favorite celebrities, or go questing for a truly unique experience in one of the museum’s themed rooms, such as the magical Castle, Maze of Mirrors, or zombie-infested Chemacorp Lab!
With hours stretching from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week, this museum is one of the easiest attractions to plan into your schedule, and online ticket sales make getting in a snap!