Old Slave Mart Museum, Charleston

3.8
#5 of 15 in Museums in Charleston
An important part of Charleston's history, Old Slave Mart Museum represents one of the few remaining buildings once used for securing slave labor. Constructed in 1859, this antebellum auction gallery originally formed part of a much larger slave market taking up an enclosed lot between two major streets. Established by a local sheriff after a ban on public slave auctions, the private market operated until the Union forces occupied Charleston and closed the operation in 1865. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, the building now offers visitors a chance to learn about the city's role in the inter-state slave trade through a presentation of individual slave sales that took place here. Make Old Slave Mart Museum a centerpiece of your Charleston vacation itinerary, and find what else is worth visiting using our Charleston trip builder app .
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Old Slave Mart Museum Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 3.5
978 reviews
Google
4.1
TripAdvisor
  • This museum portrays an important part of Charleston/American history and should be high on everyone's list for that reason alone. That said, the exhibits within are a little disappointing. It consist...  more »
  • I felt this exhibit was very interesting and informative. The staff were very educated and quick to answer questions. There is a lift for people needing assistance to get upstairs.  more »
  • This was a highly educational experience. The narratives take you back in time and you can actually feel what it was to live in those times from a white and black point of view. I have a whole new vie...  more »
Google
  • This museum is DEFINITELY worth the visit. It costs $8 ($5 for students). For that amount, it is well worth the history it contains. Prepare to take your time and read, as the walls contain a wealth of information that needs to be shared. The artifacts are few, but they moved me to tears: Things such as an actual slave whip and slave shackles. The building itself is an artifact. It's where the slaves were actually bought and sold. The day we visited, there were people of many races and ages walking around. I saw small elementary school children (on a trip with their school), teens, and adults.The lower level is very informative. The information is tastefully relayed, yet without sacrificing the raw truth of the brutality and inhumanity of slavery. We took our son, who is about to enter college and he was moved beyond the threshold of his normal emotions.He was hurt being reminded of the torturous treatment of the slaves, yet, as a young black man, he stood tall knowing that he is a descendant of people who left a legacy, even after being sold and used like beasts of burden. At times, I choked back tears. It was hard to believe that I was actually standing in the very room where my ancestors were ripped from the arms of their spouses and children to be sold into uncertainty, cruelty, and inhumane treatment. The top floor attempts to transition and show the moments of overcoming. It speaks more of the contributions made by the slaves while enslaved and while free. It speaks to the resilience of the African American people and to the bravery of those who fought for their freedom. Still, it is hard to believe that a building that many walk past today, while touring Charleston, was home to a place of such dismal dealings toward actual human beings by other human beings. I will never forget. This museum is DEFINITELY worth the visit.
  • My husband and I went to the museum on June 14, 2017. The actual museum was very informational. We didn't like the fact that the lady who worked there had an agenda of her own. She was telling us that slavery is still legal in our constitution. She just kept on and on telling us how black people are mistreated now. When I preceded to tell her that my ancestors were poor white people who definitely did not have slaves. She said that my ancestors "allowed" slavery to exist. She didn't tell us anything about the museum. I was so disgusted by her that I did not even go upstairs to see the rest of the museum.
  • A small but good museum, historically located in part of a market where slaves were actually bought and sold. The staff is very helpful, and there is much to learn here about out country's past, especially the southern US and it stance on slavery.
  • No real artifacts or knowledge. However, the facilities were immaculate.
  • Very informative and powerful facility. But, and this is a small but, I think to stay in line with most museums which you have to pay to get into, it should at least include something more interactive.

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Where to stay in Charleston

Charleston is serviced by dozens of local hotels and practically every major U.S. chain. Expect to pay top dollar for a room on the downtown peninsula, particularly if you wish to stay in one of the historic hotels. The upside of taking a room there is the proximity of all major attractions--you won't need a car to explore and enjoy your visit. Less expensive options are available in North Charleston, West Ashley, and Mount Pleasant, where you'll find all kinds of inns for the budget-conscious traveler.
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