By Mary Gallagher and Will Davis
Running the breadth of historic Meeting Street is Charleston’s 15 site “Museum Mile”. One of the most wonderful stop along the route and well supported by local citizens and visitors alike is the Gibbes Museum of Art.
The first impression of any structure is often most important and this spectacular Beaux Arts architectural style treasure, built in 1905 with monies from a trust fund left by James Shoolbred Gibbes, is truly eye pleasing. The large columns and center domed roof are priceless. Inside it gets even better with wonderful high ceilings some vaulted and coffered leading up to the second floor where a gorgeous multi-chromed dome is presented. Just to walk about the museum is a wonderful experience but so much more is offered as after all it is about the art!
The first floor has wonderful displays reflecting our colonial history through furniture, sculptures (Do not miss the “Veiled Lady by Pietro Rossi) and paintings that are in rooms just large enough to keep your interest while not to be overwhelming as one moves throughout the gallery. The first and second floors also have on display many of the paintings from artists during the Charleston Renaissance period 1915-1940. Included are works from Alice Ravenel Smith, Alfred Hutty, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, and Anna Heyward Taylor just to mention a few.
Eclectic pieces from masters such as Picasso, Chagall and William Merritt Chase from the Gibbes collections are also displayed from time to time and I viewed works from many renowned artists such as Childe Hassan and Larry Rivers .
There are many educational and creative programs offered by the museum to enrich all ages such as study groups, kids activities, art history and painting classes. Walking tours include a self guided audio tour of the museum using your cell phone.
The building is very accessible with an elevator between floors and many features to enhance the experience for disabled persons including large print information cards placed with consideration for visual challenges. The well placed lighting is wonderful !
The gift shop on the first floor is handsomely stocked with appropriate items, great for gift shopping and the staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.
Throughout the year many special events occur such as the 12th annual Kiawah Island Art and House Tour, sponsored by the member auxiliary group Gibbes, etc., is taking place on Friday, April 13, 2012, from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. This year, five stunning Kiawah Island homes in the private gated community will be opened for public viewing. Proceeds from the event benefit educational programs , exhibitions, and outreach programs at the Gibbes Museum of Art.
Gibbes Museum of Art 135 Meeting Street Charleston, SC 843.722.2706 http://www.gibbesmuseum.org
Tues-Sat: 10am – 5pm Sunday: 1 – 5pm
Adults: $9.00 Seniors, Students & Military: $7.00 Children (6 – 12): $5.00 Members and children under 6 are free
Charleston Museum Mile
Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau