14 Must Visit Museums In Columbia South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina, is a city filled with historic culture and some of the most impressive museums in the state. Columbia is known for its Southern atmosphere, historic past, and a large number of different museums to visit. Museums are a great way to spend time with friends and family while learning and experiencing new things.

Here at Lowcountry Style & Living, we want to make it simple for you to find the next museum to visit and that’s why we created this list of the best museums in Columbia, SC.

Columbia museums are more than well-kept collections of artifacts. They are more interactive than ever, helping to engage visitors of all ages. Museums in Columbia do so by offering visitors hands-on experiences. You can find new events or activities conducted at a museum by visiting their official websites. You will find yourself becoming an active part of the local community by taking a trip to some of these museums.

South Carolina State Museum

Photo credit: Official Website

If you want to learn more about the history, culture, and wildlife of the state, no visit to Columbia can ever be complete without stopping at the superb South Carolina State Museum. Set on the banks of the Congaree River, it has a huge array of interesting artifacts and interactive exhibits for you to peruse.

First opened in 1894, it is now the largest museum in the state with its galleries counting around 70,000 objects in total. Across its four floors, you can learn about everything from art and culture to science and technology, including a life-size replica of a massive 3.5 million-year-old megalodon named Finn and the first locomotive built in America.

On top of this, the museum has a state-of-the-art planetarium and interactive 4D theater for guests to enjoy with an amazing observatory.

Admission: Adult $8.95, Seniors (62+) $7.95, Children (ages 3-12) $6.95

South Carolina State Museum
301 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 898-4921
https://www.scmuseum.org

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Columbia Museum of Art

Image from: Official FB Page

This 65-year-old museum isn’t just an adult venue full of fine, breakable objects. It can also be a fun learning experience for the whole family.

The museum features European, American, and Asian art, both fine and decorative pieces, dating as far back as 2000 B.C. Included in the museum’s 25 galleries are masterpieces from artists such as David Hockney, Dale Chihuly, Roy Lichtenstein, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Don’t assume your kids won’t appreciate this “old Stuff.” Gallery guides are available to help you pique their interest.

Can’t get enough from just one visit? The museum offers membership with features that include free admission to this museum and 100 other museums around the Southeast.

Admission: Adults $10, 65+ $8, College Students $5, Youth (7-18) $5, Children (6 and under) free, Military free through Labor Day (Regularly $8)

Columbia Museum of Art
1515 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 799-2810
https://www.columbiamuseum.org

EdVenture Children’s Museum

Picture from: Official FB Page

From the moment you step into EdVenture Children’s Museum, you realize this is a special, one-of-a-kind attraction. Here, fun adventure awaits, with hands-on-exhibits enhancing the experience for kids and adults alike. Eddie, the world’s largest child, greets everyone upon arrival to the main atrium. This perpetually ten-year-old boy is 40 feet tall and weighs more than 17.5 tons. His wide grin and encouraging nature encourages kids to climb over and through his giant frame.

Dedicated exhibits include Wags and Whiskers, a simulated pet care lab where kids can learn about grooming and caring for their four legged friends. Marketworks is a fun and imaginative inventor’s lab, where young thinkers (age five and up) can use blocks, Legos, and kid-friendly tools to work on various projects. Planet Putt & Play engages children of all ages to use math and geometry to conquer the tricky, indoor, mini-golf course.

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Admission: Members Free, Children & Adults $13, Under Two Free

EdVenture Children’s Museum
211 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 779-3100
https://www.edventure.org

The South Carolina Military Museum

Source: Official Website

This museum is one of the largest National Guard Museums in the country. The museum focuses on South Carolina militia and South Carolina’s role in the National Guard and the United States Army and Air Force.

Featured in the museum are armored fighting vehicles, firearms, cannons, uniforms, authentic flight suits, model planes, and more.

Admission: Free

South Carolina Military Museum
1 National Guard Road
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 299-4440
https://www.scmilitarymuseum.com/

McKissick Museum

Image from: scpictureproject.com

Situated at the top of the University of South Carolina’s historic horseshoe in the center of campus, McKissick Museum houses a permanent collection and also holds rotating exhibitions that showcase Southern culture, history, and geography.

The museum works with scholars in the university and the community to preserve the traditions and folkways of the state and the region so people can learn about the lives of their predecessors and relate it back to our modern existence.

Admission: Free

McKissick Museum
816 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7251
https://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/artsandsciences/mckissick_museum/index.php

South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

Source: tripadvisor.com

Do you want to explore the military history of South Carolina from the Revolutionary War to the modern period? Then visiting the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Museum should be on the top of your list.

This war museum is the ideal place to explore treasures from several wars including the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish/American War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror.

Admission: Adults $6, 62+ $5, Military $3, Youth (10-18) $3

South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum
301 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 737-8095
https://www.crr.sc.gov/

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Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens

Photo credit: Official Website

The Historic Hampton-Preston Mansion and its gorgeous garden is a very popular place to visit. It offers a fascinating insight into the life and times of the wealthy planters and the poor enslaved people who worked for them.

Built in 1818, the mansion is one of the finest remaining examples of antebellum architecture in the surrounding area. With its huge veranda and sturdy Doric columns fronting its facade, the light and airy interior is decorated with fine furnishings and period pieces. Aside from learning about the Hampton and Preston planter families who owned the property, interesting artifacts and exhibits also highlight the experience of their enslaved workers.

Admission: Adults $12, Youth (6-12) $8

Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens
1615 Branding Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 252-7742
https://www.historiccolumbia.org/tours/house-tours/hampton-preston-mansion-and-gardens

Cayce Historical Museum

Cayce’s Granby Gardens Park or also known as “The Cinderella Park”.
Image from: Official FB Page

The Cayce Historical Museum chronicles the history of the First European settlement in the Midlands, then known as “the backcountry.”

The museum showcases the agricultural, social, and cultural heritage of the Cayce, Old Saxe Goths, Granby, and West Columbia areas.

Admission: Free

Cayce Historical Museum
1800 12th Street
Cayce, SC 29033
(803) 739-5385
https://caycesc.gov/museum.php

Mann-Simons Site

Source: Official Website

The modest Mann-Simons site Cottage is thought to have started as a one room building in 1825 or 1830. Celia Mann, a free woman of color lived on the property from 1844 when many of her fellow African-Americans were still enslaved

When she passed away Mann’s daughters inherited the property. Over the years the cottage morphed and expanded to meet the demand of its changing residents. By the 1970s it was owned by the Columbia Housing Authority, and opened as a house museum in 1978. After decades of research and a series of archeological digs and months of renovation in the early 2000s tells a complex story of the Black families who lived and worked at the site

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Admission: Prices vary

Mann Simon Site
1403 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 252-7742
https://www.historiccolumbia.org

U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum

Picture from: Official Website

The Basic Combat Museum tells the story of how training in the U.S. Army has developed since 1917 when Fort Jackson first opened on this site. Visitors can follow the evolution of Army training from WWI to how soldiers do it today.

Admission: Free

U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum
4442 Jackson Boulevard
Columbia, SC 29209
(803) 751-7419
https://history.army.mil/museums/TRADOC/basic-combat-training-museum/index.html

The Museum of the Reconstruction Era

Photo credit: Official Website

This museum, housed in Woodrow Wilson’s childhood home, features the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era and is the nation’s only museum dedicated solely to this period.

The Museum of the Reconstruction Era
1705 Hampton Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 752 7742
https://www.historiccolumbia.org/woodrow-wilson-family-home

Governor’s Mansion

Image from: Official Website

The South Carolina Governor’s Mansion has served as the official residence of South Carolina governors since 1855, however it was originally built as a home for officers of the Arsenal Military Academy.

The Mansion, however, is more than a residence, the public rooms illustrate the history and heritage of South Carolina. Next to the mansion lies the Governor’s Mansion Garden which is home to some of South Carolina’s biggest trees and historic foundations.

Governor’s Mansion
800 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 737-3000
https://www.scgovernorsmansion.org

Columbia Fire Museum

Picture from: tripadvisor.com

The Columbia Fire Museum is the city’s fire department headquarters. The museum houses artifacts dating back to the 1800s, such as an antique fire truck, firefighting equipment, and historic photos. The guided tour is wonderful for a group of parents and children because tour guides teach fire safety as well as showing off the fire station.

This is still an active fire station, and you may even see a fire truck or two off to an emergency during your visit.

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Admission: Free, donations welcome

Columbia Fire Department Museum
1800 Laurel Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 545-4135
https://www.colafire.net

The South Carolina Railroad Museum

Source: Official FB Page

This can be a fun family day trip. Located an hour outside of Columbia, the Railroad Museum features several stationary display cars, diesel engines and steam engines

One of the most popular features is the hour-long ride on the Rockton Rion & Western Railroad line. Railroad line tickets range from first class seats in the dining car (with drink and snack) to an open-air car with views of the countryside.

Admission:
First Class – $20 regardless of age
Coach – $12 for adults, $9 for children 2-12
Open Air Car – $15 regardless of age
Military Discount and Senior Discount for age 65 and up – $2 off (except first class)

South Carolina Railroad Museum
110 Industrial Park Road
Winsboro, SC
(803) 635-9893
https://www.scrm.org

Museums give visitors a sense of the history of the place they are visiting and a feeling of cultural identity to locals. The museums of Columbia are no different.

So come to learn, stay for the fun, and enjoy the best museums in Columbia, SC.

Copy Editor
Author: Copy Editor

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