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.

The Gibbes and The Giving Tree


The Gibbes Museum of Art recently entered a new phase in its 156 year history when it closed its doors to staff, loyal patrons, and visitors. I think that I can safely speak on behalf of the entire staff when I say that this period for us has been mixed with a little sadness, a bit of trepidation, but mostly, great excitement and enthusiasm. In 2011, I joined the Gibbes as a grant writer, and for the past three years, I have had the pleasure of submitting many applications sharing the Gibbes vision of the future. We are now finally in the countdown to a new, vibrant artistic center that will successfully blend the process of art creation with art exhibition. The Gibbes’ amazing collection of more than 10,000 works of art will finally be showcased in a place worthy of its high caliber pieces of art. Charleston has received accolades and high-rankings for so many of its achievements including restaurants, hospitality, and overall character, so it seems only fitting that this city house a world-class museum building.

But today, my purpose is not to share what has been written countless times about the future of the Gibbes but, rather, to simply thank all who have been part of this journey up to this point and to invite others to join us. Suffice it to say this journey has been the collective vision of many who come from all different walks of life. Yet they all share the common belief and passion that the Gibbes be rejuvenated and restored.

I am reminded of one of my favorite books to share with my children at this time of year – The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year!). The story is a simple tale of a boy and a tree, and the tree gives all that it has to the boy in a lifetime because it loves the boy.  At the end of the story, the boy (now an old man) ponders his life and considers how he has been blessed by the tree.  A certain sadness remains in the fact that the tree is left only as a stump.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

I believe there are parallels to this story and how we give and take in the world around us. The Gibbes Museum is like the “Giving Tree” because it is a place that continually gives to its visitors, patrons, and the community. Like the leaves and the branches, every piece of art tells a different story, and every person who walks through the museum doors has a different story to share. The Gibbes visual narratives can only be shared over and over throughout history as long as there is place that can house these great works. In three years, we have achieved $10,500,000 towards the renovation project. This is no small feat, and, again, could not be done without you. We are nearing the finish line as we strive to reach our goal of $13,400,000.  Thank you so very much for helping us to reach this point, and I ask you to stay the course with us and see this journey through. At this time of year, please consider a gift to the Gibbes Museum of Art that has blessed us and will continue to bless us with its many activities and programs. Let us not leave our museum as a “stump” but allow it to grow and flourish like the beautiful tree at the start of the story.

For year-end donations, please contact me, Jennifer Ross, director of development at 843.722.2706 X16 or via email at [email protected].

I leave you with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”

I wish you a healthy, happy, holiday season!

Jen Ross, Director of Development

Published December 17, 2014

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