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June 4, 2005
This is just the beginning of your adventure. TAke time to examine the funeral carriage and then visitthe special exhibit, which, when we visited, was Hhoes through the Ages. You will receive an education in the art of ironwork in Charleston, as well as historic preservation.
Whatever you are expecting from this museum, the scope and variety of their collection will astonish you. It is a combination natural history, decorative arts, and history museum. Billed as America’s first museum, it was founded by the Charleston Library Foundation in 1773. A fire destroyed the initial collection in 1778. Originally, items were collected from around the world, but today are collected only from Charleston. Certainly the museum has enough to keep the whole family entertained for many hours.
I began my tour by going through the silver collection. They have an amazing, deep collection, including George Washington’s christening cup.
I am a lover of snuffboxes, and they have a fine collection. If tea is your interest, there are cases filled with all the accouterments of a good English tea. Another interesting display introduces those delightfully Victorian utensils: the melon fork, mustard spoon, marrow scoop toddy ladle, asparagus server, and the like.
Bountiful Coast is an exhibit on the forest and the animals that thrive there.
It includes a formal Low Country table setting, a colonial kitchen, and a very interesting display of what a typical meal would have consisted of for the different classes of Southern Society, especially the privileged.
One room holds the original museum exhibits from 1790. It is intriguing to see what our ancestors would have thought worthy of a museum. Some of it seems quite simple in this day and age, but much of it is extraordinary enough to have stood the test of time. A two-headed brown water snake grabbed my attention.
As you continue through the museum, you will come upon the item preferred by most children - the Charleston Polar Bear.
He was taken from a frozen section of the Arctic Ocean in 1961 and is a beauty.
The history section has an outstanding costume collection. There are all the usual items, covering about 150 years: Civil War uniforms, skirts, dresses, and the like. I walked through in reverse order, so I was on a trip back into time. I think it might be wiser to do it chronologically. Watch Charleston evolve through the Revolutionary War, the rise of the rice culture, the Civil War, and beyond.
From journal Charismatic Charleston
December 14, 2001
From journal Charleston SC