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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 

Cotton Boll, Detail on Quilt

In Cotton High and Low: The History of a Carolina Cash Crop         through May 4th, 2019, 2nd Floor, North Gallery  

Cotton has changed significantly from its humble roots as a plant growing wild in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world to its position today as the primary fiber in textiles. It has influenced the history of agriculture, labor, race, and gender not only in the US South, but around the world. Explore the material culture of cotton through these lenses, beginning with the natural history of the plant itself and progressing to the social effects of its cultivation in the US South.

Four Handled Jar by Thomas Chandler

Swag & Tassel: The Innovative Stoneware of Thomas Chandler                        through July 20th, 2019, 2nd Floor, South Gallery  

Swag & Tassel: The Innovative Stoneware of Thomas Chandler,  is 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 brings 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.

"Stop the War Now", Political Button

Hot Buttons:  Political Issues in the United States                                          through June 13th, 2019, 3rd Floor, Lobby

The objects on display in this exhibition show the variety of ways American voters have communicated their opinions on these political and other issues in the past. Most people are familiar with the Democratic and Republican Parties in the United States. But party affiliation is not the only factor people use to decide how to vote. Some voters choose candidates based on a specific issue like abortion or gun control. Historically, some of the biggest issues for voters have been the economy, the Vietnam War, and busing to integrate schools during the Civil Rights movement.

Audubon Print of Carolina Parakeets

Founding Feathers: Extinction and Conservation of Southern Birds              through June 30th, 2019, 3rd Floor, Lobby

What started as a group project in a university classroom has been transformed into an educational museum exhibition on extinct and endangered birds. By showcasing the stories of the extinct ivory billed woodpecker, the Carolina parakeet, and the passenger pigeon, the exhibition brings to light the conservation efforts inspired by their disappearance. Their legacy sparked the beginning of conservation efforts around the United States including the successful conservation of the Bald Eagle. This 3rd floor lobby exhibition features objects from McKissick Museum, the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, the Museum of York County, the South Carolina State Museum and more. 

Lion Specimen in Natural Curiosity

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

Explore your own “natural curiosity” in this exhibit that highlights not only the treasures of nature, but also the evolution of the field of natural history.  Beginning soon after UofSC was founded as South Carolina College, professors and students alike collected samples of animal, vegetable, and mineral to study and grow their understanding of the world around them.  Today, visitors can still learn from these real and authentic objects or use newly installed touchscreens to dive deeper into the collections and explore the Historic Southern Naturalists. Where will your natural curiosity take you?


Upcoming Exhibits