A few weeks ago I was so happy to lead a group from Coastal Carolina University Osher Life-Long Learning Institute to Charleston, South Carolina. OLLI’s new “On the Road with a CCU Professor” program was a perfect opportunity for me to share my love for museums and public history with a new audience. We started our day nice and early, leaving from campus, and we headed down the highway and the coast towards The Holy City.
Our museum visits started with a stop at the Old Slave Mart Museum, a National Parks site. The building is located on one of the last cobblestone streets in Charleston and it is the only known extant building used as a slave auction gallery in South Carolina. Contrary to popular belief, this building is where slave auctions were held, not the city market. We had a very informative talk with their educator about the history of slavery in the Americas and the history of the building itself. Comments and questions from the attendees rounded off our visit.
After lunch at Hyman’s Seafood, we went on the Charleston Museum. At this museum we were lucky to get a Behind the Scenes curator tour, and we got to spend time in the collections storage areas talking with curators about their jobs. We got to see fossils that were over 26 million years old, amazing textiles including shoes, an 18th century dress reminiscent of my Felicity American Girl doll, an amazingly embroidered waistcoat, and a ton of old poisonous medicinal bottles. And a sad, badly taxidermies baby buffalo, which I did not get a photo of.
It was a gorgeous, sunny, only slightly chilly day to spend in Charleston, and I hope the students all got a glimpse of why I love public history and museums so much. Now to go volunteer at a museum an touch all the artifacts….
Next up, New York City for the Art on Paper fair! See you soon, NYC!