The story of the Gibbes Museum of Art is the story of the visual arts in Charleston. Today the museum is thriving after a $17 million renovation completed in 2016, and a return to pre-pandemic visitation, financial stability, and growth. Yet, the pandemic and the social reckoning brought on by the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor changed everything, not only for the Gibbes, but for museums across our country. The journey to creating a strong Gibbes and visual arts scene for our community begins with examining our museum’s history and present practices…READ MORE
The Gibbes Museum enhances 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, to discover, to enjoy, and to be inspired by the creative process.
The Gibbes Museum of Art is home to the foremost collection of American art that incorporates the story of Charleston. The Museum connects the city and region’s artistic past to a vibrant contemporary art scene. This is what we believe.
A bustling seaport in the 1700s, Charleston was a melting pot of cultures, religions, and traditions. Powered by the labor of enslaved peoples in the rice and indigo trades, it was the 4th largest city in America in 1790—and the wealthiest. Like Philadelphia, Boston and New York, what distinguished Charleston then—was art.
While we were home to some of America’s earliest art, collectors, and artists, who made the City both muse and subject—and took our turn as one of the nation’s richest cities—in money and culture—so were we also home to America’s original sin, slavery—and a war that divided our nation.
In 1888, when Charleston was financially and culturally on its knees, benefactor James Gibbes left a bequest to the City to build an art museum. When the Gibbes Museum opened in 1905, the nation celebrated what Charleston has always understood: the power of art—to inspire our imagination, heal our hurt, revel in our experience, rebuild what’s broken, nourish our souls, and release all that holds us back.
In Charleston, we believe art is the difference between merely existing and being truly alive. That’s why we immerse ourselves in every part of it—from fine art to craft—from nurturing its creation and celebrating its multicultural presentation to inviting its interpretation and ensuring its preservation.
In the presence of art, we have the opportunity to see inside the artist’s heart, mind, and soul and feel what the artist felt. That understanding and compassion make us more understanding, compassionate people, who, in turn, create a more compassionate, understanding world.
The Gibbes Museum of Art is recognized among the oldest arts organizations in the United States. Home to the Carolina Art Association, established in 1858, the Gibbes has played a significant role in both enriching the aesthetic and cultural lives of its visitors and shaping the careers of American artists for over a century.VIEW TIMELINE
Join a group of young professionals supporting the museum with social and educational programs made for up-and-coming art patrons.LEARN MORE
Volunteer time and talent for events and programs that benefit the Gibbes and support its mission of enhancing lives through art.LEARN MORE
We actively encourage sustainable practices and implement small but lasting actions to conserve natural resources. Sustainability allows us to meet the needs of the present, build an environmentally conscious culture for the future, enhancing both our mission and the community’s experience.LEARN MORE
We believe art is a calling – and a career.LEARN MORE