South Carolina State Museum
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Columbia Mills Building
The former Columbia Mills Building, now the South Carolina State Museum
|Location||301 Gervais St, Columbia, South Carolina|
|Architect||Lockwood, Greene, & Co.; Chapman, William A., Co.|
|NRHP reference #||82003902|
|Added to NRHP||May 24, 1982|
The South Carolina State Museum is a state-of-the-art facility featuring four floors of permanent and changing exhibits, a new digital dome planetarium, 4D interactive theater and an observatory. The State Museum, the largest and most comprehensive museum in the state, is located along the banks of the Congaree River in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. Positioned on an old shipping canal that dates back to pre-Civil War times, the museum is widely recognized as a resource for South Carolina history and lifestyle. The museum opened on October 29th, 1988 and is housed in what it calls its largest artifact, the former Columbia Mills Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. When the mill opened in 1894, manufacturing cotton duck cloth (a canvas-like material), it was the first totally electric textile mill in the world. It was also the first major industrial installation for the General Electric corporation. On certain levels of the museum, the original flooring has been kept intact, distinguishable by hundreds of textile brads and rings (that carried the threads during the spinning process) that became embedded in the floor while it was still being used as a mill.
The museum represents four disciplines: art, cultural history, science and technology, and natural history. Exhibits include life-size replicas of the Best Friend of Charleston, the first American-built locomotive, and the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat. The second floor is notable for its recreation of a Megalodon, named Finn, suspended mid-air just around a corner, which has scared countless groups of young children.
The museum has an "Official" Story Chair (named Sammy) designed and donated by Storyteller Mike Miller (greatstoryteller.com) for the benefit of children and storytellers.
The State Museum is undergoing a multi-dimensional expansion project, Windows to New Worlds which will position South Carolina on the cutting edge of education, particularly in the critical areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Windows to New Worlds, slated to open in 2014, has several innovative elements, including enhanced guest services, an on-site and online observatory and classroom with a distance learning studio, a 55-foot digital planetarium dome and theater, a 4D multisensory theatre, an historical telescope gallery and an outdoor telescope viewing terrace. In the capital city where three interstates converge, no one in the state will be more than 3.5 hours away. Some 75,000 additional visitors are anticipated in the first year alone and earned revenue is expected to double to $3,000,000 per year.
Travelling exhibitions at the State Museum have included Body Worlds Vital in 2012, Titanic: the Artifact Exhibition in '12, King Tutankhamen in '13, Dinosaurs: A Bite Out of Time in '14, Julius Caesar: Roman Military Might and Machines in '15, Savage Ancient Seas in '17, Hall of Heroes in '19, Leonardo da Vinci, Star Trek: The Exhibition in '99, Africa, Napoleon Bonaparte in '06, and an '08 exhibit on several of the movies filmed in SC.
- National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Columbia Mills Building" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
- "Columbia Mills Building, Richland County (Gervais St. on the Congaree River, Columbia)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
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