Gibbes Museum of Art
Directly across from the Circular Church, the Gibbes Museum of Art (135 Meeting St., 843/722-2706, www.gibbesmuseum.org, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 1–5 p.m., $9 adults, $7 students, $5 ages 6–12) is Charleston’s premier art museum. It is one of those rare Southern museums that manages a good blend of the modern and the traditional, the local and the international.
Beginning in 1905 as the Gibbes Art Gallery—the final wish of James Shoolbred Gibbes, who willed $100,000 for its construction—the complex has grown through the years in size and influence. The key addition to the original Beaux Arts building came in 1978 with the addition of the modern wing in the rear, which effectively doubled the museum’s display space.
Shortly thereafter the permanent collection and temporary exhibit space was also expanded. Serendipitously, these renovations enabled the Gibbes to become the key visual arts venue for the Spoleto Festival, begun about the same time.
The influential Gibbes Art School in the early 20th century formed a close association with the Woodstock School in New York, bringing important ties and prestige to the fledgling institution. Georgia O’Keefe, who taught college for a time in Columbia, South Carolina, brought an exhibit here in 1955. The first solo show by an African American artist came here in 1974 with an exhibit of the work of William H. Johnson.
Don’t miss the nice little garden and its centerpiece, the 1972 fountain and sculpture of Persephone by Marshall Fredericks.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition