Image to the left taken from the Charleston’s Museum Mile website
Nestled in the heart of downtown Charleston is a strip of museums and historically significant points of interest where locals and visitors alike can discover unique elements about Charleston’s colorful cultural and historical fabric. This one-mile strip is known to Charlestonians as Museum Mile.
In this strip of history, you’ll find six museums, five houses of national historical significance, four scenic parks, the Revolutionary War powder magazine, as well as famous places of worship, the Charleston City Market, and City Hall. You may choose to visit these points of interest separately or you can purchase a package. Some of Museum Mile’s theme-based packages are African American heritage, the American Revolution and Civil War history, and Charleston architecture.
Below are spotlights on the various historical attractions and museums you’ll find on Museum Mile:
Aiken-Rhett House Museum: Built in 1820 and renovated several times after, the Aiken-Rhett House is one of the oldest mansions in Charleston that takes visitors back to the antebellum time. The original owner of the house, William Aiken, Jr., lived in the Aiken-Rhett House with his wife, Harriet Lowndes Aiken, and worked as a successful businessman, rice planter, and served as the governor of South Carolina. Visitors to this house will learn about the impact the Aiken family had on Charleston history and will also have the opportunity to witness fine art and furnishings purchased by the Aiken’s from Europe and other areas around the world.
The Charleston Museum: To the surprise of many visitors, The Charleston Museum was America’s first museum and was founded in 1773. The museum boasts hundreds of artifacts from Charleston’s natural and cultural history with a focus on ornithology, historical material culture, photography, historical documents, and natural science.
In the gallery, you’ll discover history of the Lowcountry, Charleston’s role in the American Revolution, Civil War history, natural history (spotlighting birds, mammals, and reptiles once found in the Lowcountry), and the Loeblein Gallery of Charleston Silver, which features silver artifacts created by Charleston silversmiths in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Gibbes Museum of Art: For those interested in exploring Charleston’s artistic history, a visit to the Gibbes Museum of Art is an absolute must! The museum features a variety of permanent collections, that include works of art that depict the Revolutionary and Civil War eras in Charleston, as well as its progression into the 21st-century. Some of the other works of art you’ll find in the museum include pieces from Henrietta Johnston (America’s first female artist), Thomas Coram’s landscape paintings, Charles Fraser’s 19th-century portraits, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith’s woodblock prints, and much more.
On exhibition now, you’ll find Monumental Rock & Roll Photography and sculptures by Charleston’s Willard Hirsch.
Other museums and historical landmarks you’ll find on Museum Mile include:
- Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
- Joseph Manigault House
- Washington Light Infantry
- Confederate Museum
- The Powder Magazine
- Old Slave Mart Museum
- South Carolina Historical Society
- Postal Museum
- Heyard-Washington House
- Nathaniel Russell House
- Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
- Edmondston-Alston House
Some of the historical places of worship you’ll find along the Museum Mile include:
- Second Presbyterian Church
- Citadel Square Baptist Church
- St. Mary of the Annunciation
- St. Michael’s Church
- Circular Congregational Church
For more information about the Museum Mile’s theme-based ticket packages, click here.