Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
July 7, 2005
There is more to this museum than just local history. They have a very pretty "Angelika Kaufman," a luscious still-life with watermelon by Thomas Wightman and a Gilbert Stuart portrait of General John Fenwick. There is a very lovely pastel on paper by Henriette DeBeaulieu Dering Johnston. She was the first professional female artist in America. There are less than 40 works in the world attributed to her.
The Elizabeth Wallace Miniature Rooms has eight miniature rooms from historic houses in America and four rooms form around the world. These look like the most fantastic dollhouses I have ever seen. There is great detail, from the historic wallpaper to the pictures on the walls.
There is also some beautiful sculpture - one in particular charmed me. It is the head of a woman with a gauzy covering. I can’t imagine how they can create this out of marble.
In a small room by themselves is the most amazing collection of miniature portraits I have ever seen outside of England. They date from the early 1700s to the 20th century.
The Oriental Gallery houses their collection of early Japanese block prints.
While looking at their collection of architectural prints, I was delighted to find that St. Finbars Cathedral was designed by P. C. Keely. He is the same architect who designed my home parish of St. John in Middletown, CT. Even more amazing, the brownstone from which St Finbars was constructed comes from our quarries in Portland, CT. It really is a small world.
In addition to highlighting their own collection, the museum has regular exhibits on loan from national and international collections. They have an ongoing series of lectures, seminars, and classes on many different aspects of art.
Even the building itself is a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts style. Dedicated to James Shoolbred Gibbes, it has been a Charleston institution for 100 years. Stop by the gift shop on your way out. They have a very nice collection of note cards and jewelry. If you become a museum member, you will receive a 10% discount.
From journal Cultural Charleston
January 23, 2005
The collection includes real period rooms duplicated by artists in miniature construction. The rooms showcase the South Carolina low-country region’s architecture and interior design in the 18th and 19th centuries. Reduced by a scale of one inch to one foot, these rooms are furnished with handmade period furniture and furnishings, including rugs and draperies, paintings and portraits, real pewter plates, silver and Canton ware. William and Frances Bowen did many of the miniatures, and all were a gift to the museum from Elizabeth Wallace Ellis. Since you can’t photograph the exhibit, I recommend picking up the Elizabeth Wallace Miniature Rooms book for $3.95 that shows each room.
I couldn’t believe how realistic these rooms looked. It was hard to imagine that all of these tiny pieces of furniture, crown molding, wallpaper, etc. were all created in such a small form and looked so realistic. In the museum there was a miniature of the drawing room from the Nathaniel Russell House in Charleston. I took the picture of the miniature along with me while I toured that house and I found it fascinating to see the resemblance!
Also in the museum was a painting collection featuring music and musicians. The paintings were all very different from jazz bands to Andy Warhol’s Debbie Harry. There was a collection of miniature portraits. They are like broaches with detailed painted portraits, a popular item in older times. Also on display were Japanese woodblock and woodcuts. They have such detail that you really have to look carefully to see much work is required to make them.
It was a wonderful museum with so many different things I hadn’t seen before. The Gibbes Museum is the oldest fine arts organization in the Southeast, established in 1858. I guess they’ve had many years to acquire their collection, and as far as I was concerned, practice makes perfection!
They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday 1 to 5pm. Call 843/722-2706 for more information.
From journal Charleston: The Big Little City of the South