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8 Must-See Museums in Charleston


Climb aboard a WWII aircraft carrier. Uncover the history of the H.L. Hunley. Take a visit to America’s first museum. Whether you’re interested in art, science, manuscripts or fossils, Charleston has the perfect museum just waiting to be explored. Scroll through to check out 8 must-see museums in the Lowcountry.

Want to learn more about Charleston’s deep-rooted history? Discover 21 spots every history buff needs to visit in Charleston.

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of Arts features two interlinked museum quality exhibition spaces showcasing numerous works of art by emerging artists. The Institute also hosts a year-round schedule of screenings, panels, lectures and exhibitions.

In 1864, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sank the USS Housatonic off the coast of Charleston and made history as the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship. The Hunley then vanished along with its crew of eight and was lost for over a century. Visit The Friends of the Hunley museum to learn more about the discovery and history of the Hunley.

Step inside this Beaux Arts building that is as fetching as the 10,000 works of Southern art it houses. Since 1858, the Gibbes Museum has hosted exhibitions with a regional connection, while its permanent collection includes many pieces of merit from the 1915 – 1940 Charleston Renaissance.

This museum explores the history of Africans who where forcibly brought to America, and the hardships they endured.

Celebrated as America’s first museum, this downtown institution masterfully interprets the cultural and natural history of the Charleston area with hands-on exhibits that include fossils, colonial clothing and more.

Step aboard the historic aircraft carrier the USS Yorktown to visit the Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point, which aims to tell the story of the brave Americans who have served and protected the United States of America. The Medal of Honor Museum pays tribute to those who have served in the Civil War all the way to the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Home to a variety of priceless firefighting artifacts, including 18 historic engines, this hands-on museum puts you as close to a fire as possible without getting burned.

Grab the family and climb to the top of a medieval castle, take the helm of a Lowcountry pirate ship or create a masterpiece in the museum’s Art Center!