Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston

Categories: Art Museums, Museums
Inspirock Rating:
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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  • Revisited the museum with a guided tour of the various areas and Artists displays. Tour is slow and broken into parts by multiple guides with the knowledge of Artists participating in their separate d...  read more »
  • This place has a great little collection of contemporary art. The third floor has rotating special exhibits which can be quite interesting. It has recently been renovated and is a beautiful facility. ...  read more »
  • Excellent sampling of art from the south and Charleston area including quite a few marble sculptures/busts and many pieces of fine furniture. Also included are modern and unique exhibits like antique ...  read more »
  • 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!
  • Museum is gorgeous. The rotunda is breathtaking.
  • The "Gibbes," as it is affectionately known by locals brings its visitors face to face with the history of the South Carolina Lowcountry in a very engaging and well organized way. The paintings, sculpture, photographs, etc. found in the Gibbes Museum of Art are mostly by American artists and there is usually some kind of connection to Charleston or the South, but various interesting traveling exhibits also make their temporary home there. If you take it all in, you'll benefit from a Charleston history lesson in various art forms, plus the joy of whatever exciting new exhibit is featured at the time. If you like fine portraiture, photographs, history, sculpture, interesting exhibits, friendly staff and appreciate dogged attention to every detail from historical storytelling to perfection in display - don't miss the charm of a small museum that always has something new to be discovered. I find myself going there again and again and always find treasures to feed my soul and fuel my own artistic endeavors.
  • I live in a much smaller city than Charleston that has two art museums that are much more interesting than the Gibbes. If you are interested in Charleston's history as told through art and artifacts, this would be a good place to visit. If not (and we aren't), it is definitely so-so, and the price is high for an hour or so of art. This is, of course, barring a really wonderful special exhibition, which is not happening now. "Modern Masters" is pretty sparse.
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