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McKissick Museum

Natural history exhibits

Current and Future Exhibitions

Our exhibitions are based on current scholarship and research, providing the university campus and the community with engaging presentations each year. We strive to produce exhibitions that reflect the museum’s broad, interdisciplinary approach, educating visitors about the diversity and richness found throughout the Southeast region.

Current Exhibitions 

Big Chief Costume

WELL SUITED: The Costumes of Alonzo V. Wilson for HBO's® Treme     through July 21, 2018, 2nd Floor, South Gallery

"Well Suited" includes costumes designed by Wilmington, North Carolina native Alonzo V. Wilson for HBO's award-winning series Treme. The series takes its name from Tremé, one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans that continues to be an important center of the city's African-American and Créole culture.  The series begins four months after Hurricane Katrina as the residents of New Orleans, including musicians, chefs and Mardi Gras Indians, try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane. This exhibition showcases nine exquisitely crafted Mardi Gras Indian suits from Treme, and also includes Mardi Gras costumes from select characters, as well as design sketches, film excerpts, video interviews with cast and costumers and behind-the-scenes photography.

Tiffany Vase

Nostalgia for Nature: Democratizing Decorative Arts                             through June 2, 2018, 2nd floor, North Gallery

By the late nineteenth century industrialization had transformed Western society. Dominating cities were machine-filled factories and buildings constructed in Revivalist architectural styles. Urbanization had taken hold creating a great divide between artists/designers and end products. Individuals looking to resist the Machine Age created their own artistic movements, specifically the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau. What these styles had is common was the goal of reviving the applied arts and making them affordable to the general public. This exhibition will feature examples of decorative art glass and pottery, representing the two aforementioned art movements, from the William S. Belser and Richard D. Mandell Collections at McKissick Museum. Objects representing important individual artisans and reputable companies such as Emile Galle,ˊ Reneˊ Lalique, Tiffany Studios, and Rookwood Pottery are included.

University of South Carolina: 1856 - 1906

Centennial Hallway                                                                                           through 2018, 2nd Floor, Hallway

The University of South Carolina underwent several dramatic changes in its first century of existence. This exhibition in the second floor north hallway examines the history of the university from 1801 to 1906. Important events from this time period include the development of the Horseshoe, the Civil War, integration during Reconstruction, and re-segregation at the end of Reconstruction. Visitors to this exhibition will see how the university developed from a single building to the historic Horseshoe and the important cultural transformations that accompanied these new buildings.

Fort Jackson Class Photo

 The Great War in the Capital City: Reflections on World War, 100 Years Later                                                                                                                               through December 17, 2018, 3rd Floor, Lobby

Opening for the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I, this exhibition will discuss the importance of WWI at the University of South Carolina, as well as in the greater Columbia community. The Great War in the Capital City explores the use of art as propaganda, the ways in which material culture provides a glimpse into the past, and the ethics of rewarding wartime service. The exhibition will feature items from the collection of Army Chaplain and USC alumnus George K. Way, wartime sheet music and posters, and various commemorative medals, among other objects.

Natural Curiosity Lion

Natural Curiosity:  The University of South Carolina and the Evolution of Scientific Inquiry in the Natural World                                                           Ongoing, 3rd Floor, South Gallery

Humans possess a fascination with the natural world around them. We always have. From the 32,000-year-old cave paintings of horses in France to the giraffe stickers today's children paste into their activity books, we can see that humans are eager to see, touch, collect, and understand nature. This exhibition explores this curiosity about nature by asking questions about why we collect natural specimens and artifacts, how we display them, and what they tell us about our relationship with and obligations to the natural world. Through an examination of approaches to building and maintaining the natural science collections at the University of South Carolina, this exhibition also offers a glimpse of the impressive array of specimens collected and displayed over the past 200 years for the purposes of education, research, and even entertainment. 


Upcoming Exhibits

Swag & Tassel: The Innovative Stoneware of Thomas Chandler

August 2018, 2nd Floor, South Gallery

In August 2018, McKissick Museum will present "Swag & Tassel: The Innovative Stoneware of Thomas Chandler", the first retrospective exhibition of a 19th century Edgefield, SC, potter since I Made This Jar: The Life and Works of the Enslaved African-American Potter, Dave. Building upon the research in Philip Wingard's 2014 Ceramics in America article, "From Baltimore to the South Carolina Backcountry: Thomas Chandler's Influence on 19th Century Stoneware," the exhibition will bring new archaeological and archival research to bear on our understanding of the nature and scope of Chandler's technical and aesthetic innovations within the context of mid-19th century Edgefield District pottery manufacturing.

Sharing the Chores: Works on Paper by Jonathan Green

June 16th to August 4th, 2018, 2nd Floor, North Gallery

 Jonathan Green was born and raised in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and his roots are clearly reflected in his art. The eleven hand-drawn lithographs and single hand-pulled serigraph depict life and work for the Gullah people in the Lowcountry. The series showcases Green’s vibrant color choices and bold imagery for which he has become famous. This exhibition has previously traveled around the country and will be displayed at McKissick as a limited engagement. 

Place It/Face It: Pottery by Eugene

August 18th to December 15th 2018, 2nd Floor, North Gallery

In the fall of 2018, McKissick Museum will premiere Place It/Face It: Pottery by Eugene, the first retrospective exhibition of ceramic art by self-taught, African-American potters Winton and Rosa Eugene of Cowpens, SC.  For thirty years, this husband and wife artistic team has produced a body of functional wares that speak to southerners’ shared experience of place and sculptural works that seek to address issues of particular concern to them.  The exhibit will survey both the wheel-turned, painted plates and pitchers that Winton creates to document the vernacular architecture, flora and fauna of the south, as well as the series of sculptural works Rosa hand coils—Minority in Relief, The Struggle, and Beauty to name a few.