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, and nourish our souls.

Support for the Oldest Museum Building in the South

Visitors in the Charleston Renaissance gallery.

As the holidays quickly approach and 2017 nears its end, it is the time to reflect on our abundance and blessings. We are fortunate to live in Charleston, a place of beauty and distinct character. As director of development for the Gibbes Museum of Art, I am so thankful for the opportunity to work in a wonderful Beaux Art building that showcases a vibrant American art collection with a regional twist. Today, after a two-year, $17 million dollar renovation, the Gibbes shines brightly in the heart of the historic district and has claimed its rightful place as a jewel in Charleston’s crown.

The Campbell Rotunda pre- and post-renovation.
The Campbell Rotunda Gallery pre- and post-renovation.

During this year of operation, the Gibbes Museum facility restoration received accolades from all sectors including the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the Preservation Society of Charleston, and Historic Charleston Foundation. We were thrilled to welcome 60,000 visitors and 6,000 students in addition to doubling our membership. This all happened through the efforts of an amazing staff, board, educators, and artists who provided 100+ educational opportunities through exhibitions, programs, and performances.

Visiting Artist Jill Hooper at the Gibbes
The Gibbes Visiting Artist program invites visitors of all ages to engage with contemporary artists and learn about their process.

We also learned through a recent Economic Impact Study produced by The Citadel School of Business Administration that the Gibbes is “a driving force in the Charleston community.” The Museum’s ability to push the economy in a positive direction is proven by the study’s calculated 120 million dollar impact through the visitors it attracts and the jobs it creates. This is a tremendously positive accomplishment for our 112-year-old facility that is recognized as the oldest museum building in the South.

Visitors in the galleries
Visitors enjoy a rich array of artwork throughout the year.

This is only the beginning! In 2018, the Gibbes will launch a 10-year Strategic Plan also in the making for the past two years. We look forward to sharing more with the community in the coming months about the goals of the plan. However, one major initiative begins now through the guidance and support of our experienced Gibbes Building & Grounds Committee and the Gibbes Board, comprised of philanthropists, community volunteers, and business leaders. Recognizing the need to plan for the Gibbes future, these individuals have stepped forward to establish the Gibbes Facility Fund. As a community that is considered the “IT” place, we all recognize the importance of working together to preserve our many historic institutions so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Little artists at work in the Education Center classrooms.
Little artists at work in the Education Center classrooms.

The City of Charleston, co-owner of the facility, has also committed an annual contribution to the Gibbes Facility Fund. We are most grateful for this support to be used exclusively for the maintenance and repair required by our museum building. To our end, and as a goal established by the 10-Year Strategic Plan, we will raise $100,000 annually as the Gibbes contribution to the fund.

The Rotunda stained-glass dome, view from above
The Tiffany-era stained-glass dome crowns the Campbell Rotunda gallery. A view from above shows the dome pre- and post-cleaning.
The rear facade of the Gibbes Museum pre- and post-renovation, with the newly landscaped Lenhardt Garden.
The rear facade of the Gibbes Museum pre- and post-renovation, with the newly landscaped Lenhardt Garden.

We hope that you have had the opportunity to visit and experience the new Gibbes, and if not, let us know and we will be more than happy to take you on a tour. We are grateful to our residents and visitors for helping us to reach this point in our history, and in the coming years, our promise to the community is to make a significant difference in their lives through exhibitions and programs that are transformative and intellectually stimulating.
Please consider helping to protect our beautiful Museum and ensuring its legacy by donating today. For more information about the Gibbes Facility Fund, please contact me at [email protected].

—Jennifer Ross, Director of Development, Gibbes Museum of Art
November 28, 2017

Related Content