S.C. Arts Awards: The Gibbes Museum of Art

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year’s recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we’ll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.


The Gibbes Museum of Art

Organization Category

Since its construction in 1905, the Gibbes has been a center of creativity for the visual arts in the South. It generates scholarship, exhibitions, and programs that promote a deep understanding of the diverse Lowcountry region and provides context for its role in American and world culture.

The mission of the Gibbes is to enhance lives through art by engaging people of every background and experience with art and artists of enduring quality, by collecting and preserving art that touches Charleston, and by providing opportunities to learn, discover, enjoy, and be inspired by the creative process. A 2017 Economic Impact Study has concluded that the Gibbes is a “driving force in the community” with a calculated 120 million dollar impact on the tourist economy through the 60,000 visitors it attracts and the jobs it creates.

In spring 2016 the Gibbes reopened after a 17 million dollar capital project that restored and renovated its original Beaux Arts building, which is the oldest art museum facility in the South. Today visitors begin their artistic discovery through free access to the ground floor public education center with state-of-the art lecture, performance, and studio spaces that open directly into the Lenhardt Garden, where numerous private and corporate rental events take place. Nine splendid galleries greet visitors on the second and third floors where world-renowned American artists spanning 300 years of art history are showcased, including the Mary Jackson Modern and Contemporary Gallery named after the renowned American sweetgrass basket maker, whose work is permanently on display. Regularly changing special exhibitions attract audiences from around the world. The Gibbes renovation has received accolades from all sectors including the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the Preservation Society of Charleston, and Historic Charleston Foundation.

The Gibbes houses an exceptional painting and works on paper collection that spans from the Colonial period through the present, the most comprehensive collection of objects from the Charleston Renaissance period (1915-1940), and the third largest collection of miniature portraits in the country. It lends more than 50 objects per year to renowned art institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, and Art Institute of Chicago; serves as an image resource to publishing houses, businesses, and scholars; participates in the Google Art & History initiative; and offers thousands of objects from the collection for online research. Its many exhibition publications featuring original research have garnered numerous awards and have changed the way Charleston and the South are viewed in the history of American art.

Dynamic year-round programming engages and supports the needs of the region’s innovators and creative community. It continually develops new, multi-dimensional education and outreach programs—more than 100 per year— to expand the museum experience while addressing the interests of an increasingly diverse audience. As part of a 10-Year Strategic Plan launched in 2018, the Gibbes has set forth goals to offer transformational exhibitions exploring the themes of social justice; innovation; health and wellness; and conservation and the environment. In addition, the creation the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art in 2008 strengthens its focus on contemporary artists by awarding $10,000 to a living artist whose work contributes to a new understanding of art in the South.

Visit GibbesMuseum.org to learn more.


South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.


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