State Museum, South Carolina art, history and science under one roof (Columbia fun things to do)

Housed in the former Columbia Mill building the State Museum features 4 floors of interactive exhibits covering art, history, natural history, science and technology. It is South Carolina’s and probably the Southeast’s largest state museums.

Playing with Leonardo da Vinci Machines

Playing with Leonardo da Vinci Machines

Curious to find out how Columbia came into place? In 1785 the South Carolina Senate approved to move the new state capital on the land near Garners Ferry on the Congaree River.

Among other nominations were Camden (the first proposal, later rejected), the Sumter District (supported by Gen. Sumter the “Fighting Gamecock”!) and the land near St. Matthews.

Columbia was America’s first planned capital city, designed and laid out in a two-mile square with streets named for agricultural products (how original!) and Revolutionary War heroes.

Not everyone seemed to agree the Columbia city planning was a very good idea. Col. Thomas Taylor who owned several hundreds acres along the Congaree River near the future site of Columbia is reputed to have said that the city founders “have turned a damned fine plantation into a pretty poor town”.

Interesting Things to See at the State Museum

The Cotton Mill exchange – The State Museum building once was a prominent textile mill, the Columbia Mill or “Duck Mill” as it was called. Opened in 1894 it was the world’s first totally electrically operated mill. It closed in the late 80s.

Columbia Mill

Learn the life and customs of Coastal Native Americans and the very moving story of Priscilla, a little girl abducted centuries ago from Sierra Leone.

Priscilla

Marvel seeing the 1904 Curved Dash Oldsmobile one of the first automobiles in South Carolina and full size replicas of “Best Friend of Charleston” the first American-built steam locomotive and the H.L. Hunley, the Confederate’s best hope to break the blockade during the Civil War and first submarine to sink an enemy ship. To this day we don’t know why and how the Hunley disappeared.

2010 Update!
Here are the most recent findings, clues and theories on what might have happened to the Hunley. Check out these amazing artifacts on display in North Charleston.

Inside Hunley submarine

See the incredible dugout canoe! Kept underwater for centuries it was found in pristine condition, still attached to its roots, a rare archeological treat. Apparently the wood cracked and it was never finished.

Dugout Canoe

At the natural history exhibits the pre-historic animals steal the show. You will be awed to see full size replicas of a mammoth, giant armadillo, and a “cute” T-Rex as one might expect.

Mammoth

On the Science and Technology floor you can admire the gold medal of Dr. Charles Townes, South Carolina first Nobel Prize winner, who invented the laser; also on display outer space artifacts from moonwalker Charles Duke.

If you get hungry Crescent Café is open till 4 PM and offers deli sandwiches, hot-dogs, salads and soups, and bakery items like croissants, muffins and cookies. Beverages options are soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, hot chocolate and tea.

2009 UPDATE!

The museum hosts remarkable traveling exhibits so make sure to come back and enjoy them all. For example in 2008 we had a blast trying to figure out how to operate dozens of Leondardo da Vinci inventions (yes they let you touch and play with them!).

This year we were amazed seeing the most powerful natural forces at work: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, blizzards, floods and the world’s largest hail stone! Added bonus you can play weather man on a live TV screen. The Powers of Nature exhibit will run till first week in September 2009.

Giant hailstone at Powers of Nature exhibit

Giant hailstone at Powers of Nature exhibit

Where

Admission: Adults $7, children 3-12 $5. Military and senior discount is $1. For a full schedule of events, special tours, birthday parties visit the State Museum website or call (803) 898-4921 and (803) 898-4999 for group reservations.

Directions: The State Museum is located downtown at 301 Gervais Street across from Edventure Children’s Museum, few blocks west of the State Capitol.

Discovery Center

Learn and play at the SC State Museum!

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3 Responses

  1. […] State Museum – History, Hollywood, wildlife and science all under one roof! Experience the best South Carolina […]

  2. […] SC State Museum has an incredible Southern Railroad model train layout depicting post Civil War South Carolina […]

  3. […] you’re already inside the museum check out all the great things it has to offer. The SC State museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9AM to 5PM (1-5PM on […]

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