The Gibbes Museum of Art is the home of the Carolina Art Association, an organization dedicated to the cultivation of the arts and art education in Charleston since its inception in 1858.
Located on lower Meeting Street in Charleston, the Gibbes Museum of Art is the home of the Carolina Art Association, an organization dedicated to the cultivation of the arts and art education in Charleston since its inception in 1858. The building opened to the public on April 11, 1905, as the James S. Gibbes Memorial Art Gallery. It was named after James Shoolbred Gibbes, whose legacy enabled the association and the city of Charleston to purchase property and erect a building for the display of art and for art instruction. Architect Frank Milburn designed the original two-story edifice in the Beaux Arts style with a notable stained glass dome in the rotunda. In 1976 the association began a building program to remodel and expand the original structure. The enlarged facility of thirty thousand square feet opened to the public in 1978. In 1988 the name of the organization was changed to the Gibbes Museum of Art. It is accredited by the American Association of Museums.
Entering the twenty-first century, the Gibbes Museum housed a collection of more than five hundred paintings, including works by such nationally prominent artists as Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale, and Gilbert Stuart, and native painters such as William H. Johnson and Edwin Harleston. The museum also maintains a renowned collection of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century miniature portraits and a growing collection of contemporary art. Other noteworthy collections include the Marks Collection of early-twentieth-century photographs, the Read Japanese Print Collection, and the Ballard Collection of European prints and drawings. The museum’s archive documents the history of the Carolina Art Association and the artists represented in the collection. Besides mounting permanent and temporary art exhibitions, the museum offers lectures and symposia, family and school programs, and instructional art classes.
Mouzon, Harold A. “The Carolina Art Association: Its First Hundred Years.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 59 (July 1958): 125–38.