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McKissick Museum

1940; Museum & Archives, Administrative Offices

A landmark in the center of the campus, McKissick was the main library until the opening of Thomas Cooper Library in 1976 (a major expansion of the former Undergraduate Library which had been built in 1959).

McKissick was built on the site of the original president's house (1807). It was the most ambitious of several buildings erected as part of the New Deal, and was paid for in part by Works Progress Administration funds. Today the museum has outstanding collections and is nationally recognized for its Southern folk art programming.

J. Rion McKissick (1894-1944, Class of 1905) was president of USC from 1936 to 1944. He first came to the University as dean of the School of Journalism in 1927 after serving as editor of the Greenville News and the Greenville Piedmont. McKissick initiated the University News Service to keep the general public informed of the development of its state university, and made many speeches around the state defining the University's goals. Under his administration enrollment increased significantly and an extensive building program was launched.

Named collections in the University Museum include the Bernard M. Baruch Silver Collection, the J. Harry Howard Gemstone Collection, and the Kohn Doll Collection named for the late Mr. and Mrs. Sol Kohn.

The geology museum is named for Dr. Laurence L. Smith, professor emeritus and former state geologist. Among the displays there are the Thomas L. Cooper Collection and the Burnham S. Colburn Collection.

A plaque in the entrance hall of McKissick commemorates Rep. Solomon Blatt's leadership of the movement in the 1937 General Assembly which resulted in the appropriation of funds toward the construction of the building.

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