Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston
(4.1/5 based on 100+ reviews on the web)
Formerly known as the Gibbes Art Gallery, the Gibbes Museum of Art is an art museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the museum moved into a new Beaux Arts building at 135 Meeting Street, in the Charleston Historic District, in 1905. The Gibbes houses a premier collection of over 10,000 works of fine art, principally American works, many with a connection to Charleston or the South.The benefactor, James Shoolbred Gibbes, donated $100,000 to the Carolina Arts Association upon his death in 1899 for the "erection of a suitable building for the exhibitions of paintings." Receipt of the money by the city, however, was delayed by a will contest filed by nieces and nephews of Gibbes. Their case was heard in the state court of New York during 1900 and 1901. On December 6, 1901, the New York Supreme Court (the state's trial-level court) issued an opinion declaring that the gift to Charleston was valid.Receiving the money in 1903, the Association hired Frank Pierce Milburn to design the gallery. His design included a Tiffany-style dome, Doric columns and pediment capped windows and doors. Milburn completed the drawings of the building in mid-1903, and a drawing of the proposed building appeared in the Charleston Evening Post on June 5, 1903. Notices were published seeking contractors' bids for the work starting in August 1903. In September 1903, H.T. Zacharias was selected as the contractor and received a contract for $73,370 for the building. Zacharias started work on September 28, 1903, removing the remains of the South Carolina Agricultural Hall which had occupied the lot. Although work on the foundations had begun already, a ceremony was held on December 8, 1903, to lay the cornerstone of the building at the northeast corner.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Lovely, small museum. Took us about 2 hours to go through. Permanent collection was interesting and the was a special Guggenheim exhibit which was fascinating. There were descriptions at all artwork w...  more »
  • The architecture of the museum was the most interesting thing there. Went for the few impressionist paintings, but walked around the rest of the museum too. Okay way to pass about 90 minutes, but defi...  more »
  • Went here with out of town visitors. Very disappointing, almost amateur showings. Mostly blank walls, very little to see. Won't ever go back. 
Google
  • What a great little art museum. 3rd floor had a great Guggenheim exhibition. 2nd floor was standing art displays. Nice courtyard out back. Found it all worth the few dollars of entrance fee. Go. Enjoy. Not very busy so you can spend time with the art.
  • The recent renovation is spectacular! This is as elegant as any small museum in America. the quality of the permanent collection and current exhibits is first class!!! The Museum shop is extraordinary. The upcoming cafe will make the Gibbes one of my favorite hangouts in Charleston!!!
  • Amazing remodel! The Guggenheim exhibit was spectacular. I'm so impressed with the modern move. The Chagall was my favorite.
  • I was received by the most wonderful and charming staff member upon entering. Her focus and attention was engaging and quite helpful. She made me feel like I was being welcomed into a family member's home. The artwork on each floor was well worth the visit, particularly the "Porgy and Bess" collection. I was pleasantly surprised and enlightened to find both historical and contemporary works by African American artists represented. Some of these artists I had only experienced through art history textbooks. What a delight to have had the same charming young lady who took my entrance fee and gave directions to be ready to inquire with such earnest and passion about my experience as I was exiting an hour later. I will certainly return some day when I am again in town.
  • A fantastic art museum with wide appeal. If you like American art or are interested in Charleston history then this place is a must do when visiting Charleston. The new renovation is beautiful and I can only imagine the experience improving once their cafe and garden are completed. A true Charleston gem!