South Carolina State Museum

South Carolina State Museum

301 Gervais Street
Columbia SC 29201
803-898-4921

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The South Carolina State Museum has four floors of permanent and changing exhibits, a digital dome planetarium, 4D interactive theater and an observatory. The State Museum, is located along the banks of the Congaree River in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.

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Reviews
  • Aug 24, 2021 by Mike Jefferson

    Took the Grands and had a great time explaining the items we commonly used in the 1960! Excellent displays! A whole lot to see. Great short film that was informative and interesting. Be prepared to spend the day there.

  • Jul 27, 2021 by Elizabeth Tranquilla

    South Carolina State Museum has always been one of my favorite places to go. I have a picture of my son touching the earth's core every year, throughout his 11 years. I of course also like sharing the hidden gnomes with those who did not know about them. It is always a clean and exciting place to learn, explore, and when covid is done, hopefully spend the night again.

  • Jul 23, 2021 by Joey Rains

    We love this museum. It’s big, has plenty of interactive exhibits, a nice gift shop and snack area. The exhibits rotate frequently so we’ve been several times and are never bored. The space ones are my favorite and I think the ones most dedicated but the whole museum is wonderful. The planetarium is really nice, every show we’ve seen here has been great, and the prices are so fair. It’s much cheaper to book tickets for the museum and a show than it is the zoo. Covid precautions were enforced and some of the touch exhibits had been removed but I have confidence one day they’ll come back. The art gallery in here is also a must see.

  • Jul 17, 2021 by Heidi D

    I was completely surprised at how great this museum was. You need a good 4+ hours if you want to fully experience it. Gift shop was strong. Two tiny suggestions: 1. The balcony needs a good cleaning. 2. Directional arrows on floor are really needed. We were so discombobulated.

  • Jul 04, 2021 by James Carroll

    Tons of information and exhibits. The four floors don’t leave any doubt that it’s good and informative stuff. Really suggest a few hours to go though all the exhibits. Focus on South Carolina is obvious but also allows for expansion elsewhere. Great for children and any other people that want to learn.

  • Jun 19, 2021 by Sara Beth Wade

    Oh my goodness, it's like 4 museums in one, plus a planetarium, an observatory, and a 4D theater! I got a ticket with 2 shows and planned to spend the day. I took my time, but even spending the whole day, I rushed through the last 2-3 galleries, it's really big! There's art, natural history, cultural history, and science, everything from dinosaurs to a mars rover. Don't miss the graphic art gallery near the planetarium - I didn't realize the famous Obama "hope" posters were done by a South Carolinian.

    I even went back a second time just to watch all the shows - I liked best (in order) We Are Stars, Black Holes, and National Parks Adventure (turns out I had seen that one already in IMAX.) And I preferred the Planet Earth II 4D show way more than Small Foot, but they play Small Foot more times for the kids. But Planet Earth has more effects.

    There is a cafe if you stay all day like me (and the food is pretty good - you get a cookie with a combo, which is always a plus!) Or you can leave for lunch and come back if you prefer. There's a huge store selling everything SC-branded possible.

  • May 29, 2021 by Crystal Bagley

    My family of five were staying in Columbia on vacation. We decided to go to the planetarium here and to see the museum. I must and absolutely give it a five-star wish I could give it a 10. Every value for your money. So much to see so much to do. We were here for quite some time and I guarantee you we missed over half of the museum. Definitely want to make a trip back.

  • Apr 11, 2021 by J *

    Located on Gervais Street. Beautiful location, easily accessible and lots of shaded parking. Drive up drop and and pick-up for those that require assisted access. Loved every display from all moments in South Carolina's history. The only negative was that none of the interactive exhibits worked. The planetarium was fun and educational. Our visit was conducted by the planetarium director, a nice gentleman, and for adults he did a good job but not presented for children aged 5-10 in a way to relate with that age group. Self guided and 4 stories, the history spans from the age of the dinosaurs to modern day innovation and civil issues. Restrooms are easily accessible on every floor with handicap facilities. Elevators are also available to assist with ease of movement to each area of the museum.

  • Apr 10, 2021 by Katie Simmons

    I've always loved this place. There's something new every time I go, and whether you have questions about an exhibit or just need to find the closest restroom, all the employees are really helpful. The space exhibit, planetarium, and observatory are my absolute favorite. I can just explore them all day. The gift shop is pretty cool too.

  • Apr 08, 2021 by Audra Linfert

    So much to see and learn! Love the new space/NASA exhibit. Everyone should get a membership. WELL worth it! The gift shop is the best place to shop for local goodies...jewelry, artwork, food gifts, and so much more.

  • Apr 07, 2021 by Cherri Spaulding

    Alot of history & wonderful displays. We had 5 children age 1-8 & each found some interesting things & many questions asked. The littlest one enjoyed running in the hallways. It was over crowded as reservation is required. Would like to go back again.

  • Mar 14, 2021 by Michelle Miller

    This is a great place to go with children. The educational opportunities are endless. If you home school, consider a field trip.

  • Mar 07, 2021 by Tonya S.

    Loved visiting the museum with family when we came home for a visit. Kids had a good time and I love going to the museums.

  • Feb 23, 2021 by Steven Phillips

    Very fun museum. Focuses on South Carolina history. There are some very cool, unique, and interactive exhibits. The museum is huge. Some of the exhibits feel a bit like an excuse to take up space (like the furniture exhibit or the telescope exhibit) but maybe some people are into that. Overall though, we had a lot of fun an learned a lot.

  • Jan 29, 2021 by Dwight Sealey

    We lost count of how many times we've visited this place and it never fails to surprise us every single time. There's always something to see and something we missed last time. The ambiance is sunny and the cafeteria is fantastic.
    The only reason we gave 4 stars out of 5 is for such a big place that hosts hundreds of people at any given time, the bathrooms (especially the one near the entrance on the first floor) are so small. I often see women waiting in line outside of these bathrooms. Whoever was the architect was not doing it right by using the cookie-cutter approach.

  • Jan 16, 2021 by Hatchet Tazz

    Great family place. Many different exhibits and a lot of variety. Additional exhibits are added every so often. Would love to go again.

  • Jan 15, 2021 by Johnny Graham

    Even during a pandemic, it's a very safe place visit. There are signs of regular cleaning. Precautions have been taken to minimize contact points but still offer a fun and educational experience.

  • Jan 06, 2021 by Kristen

    The museum is a fun learning experience for everyone. Especially the planetarium and observatory. Definitely must see and do there.

  • Dec 30, 2020 by Brad Saunders

    Large and well socially distanced. A great experience for families of all ages. Interactive to the extent it can be right now, and even more fun I'm sure when we return to normal. The 4D movies are extra but worth the expense for kids over 5.
    Will definitely go back to learn more about the state and U.S. history.

  • Dec 13, 2020 by Amanda Rae

    Amazing! So much to see and learn about. If your looking for a place to take the family or explore alone, this is it. No admission required to walk around. Clean and friendly atmosphere.

  • Oct 24, 2020 by Jefferson Family

    Me and my family had a good time but the show was not what we expected. The customer service was not great . Me and my family walked in and there was 2 crew members at customer service . One of the crew members was helping a couple . The crew member that was free just looked around and sometimes at us but never volunteer to help me. Then the crew member that was helping a couple was finished and offered us help as we walk up to get our tickets another family walks in and the other crew member offered them help but when me and my family was waiting he would not offer us help. I really felt some kind of way. Other then that great place

  • Oct 11, 2020 by Mike Ward

    We enjoyed visiting the museum today. The museum made it very clear how they are dealing with COVID-19 and the precautions they expect guests and employees to follow. We specifically went for the Halloween laser show. It was a very nice presentation. We followed it up with a great walk through the museum. The only thing I would recommend is to pay attention BEFORE you buy your tickets. We purchased tickets online so that we could be sure to have a spot. When we got there we found out that we could get $25 off a membership if we upgraded. This is where we have a problem. Our visit cost us nearly $70 for the family. To upgrade to a membership would cost $129. Even with the $25 discount, we would still wind up spending a whole lot more than if we considered the membership up front and purchased the $129 membership. We chose to not spend $50 extra on a membership. Other than this issue, everything was great.

  • Sep 23, 2020 by Alex Beck

    I was a little disappointed at how many of the hands on interactive exhibits were missing but I understand why. I think it just makes it a little less fun for kids. The staff was very friendly and I saw a lot of things here that I haven't seen at other museums so I really enjoyed the experience anyways.

  • Sep 19, 2020 by Daniel Norris

    We had a great time at the museum today. They had lots of interesting exhibits. We did the planetarium and the 4D theater which was definitely worth it for the small additional price. We visited on a Saturday and there were very few people here which I thought was sad. We're from out of town and I assume Covid-19 played a big role in the crowd, but I expected to see more people. The museum did a great job of keeping everything clean! I recommend coming out and supporting this very nice museum!

  • Sep 18, 2020 by Tilley Cecil

    This place has some amazing facts...check it out

  • Sep 14, 2020 by Erica Greene

    Came here on a Sunday with my 4 y/o & 7 y/o and at first I thought they would find it boring but they actually really enjoyed it! There’s LOTS to see. 4 floors. The only downfall of that is they claim the elevators are “out of order” but we still saw people using them so idk what that is about. Sucked being 7 months pregnant and having to climb all those stairs but other then that we had a good time. We saw the national parks show in the planetarium which was a little longer then I expected but a good break from all the walking and climbing. The kids liked the show. Sundays they are open from 12-5 so id like to go back on another day when we have more time and maybe when they have the concessions back open. 4/5 would recommend for adults and children 3+, not really baby friendly.

  • Sep 13, 2020 by Amber ThaGr8

    This museum is great for kids and adults. Mostly adults and for the kids intrigued by history. The Planetarium and 45 theatre is a MUST go to.

    Just when you thought it couldn't get better than 3d. Sit back because 4d has arrived. Seat vibrations, wind and particle feel on legs, that 3D effect and awesome sound & better than expected comfortable seating. Overall, it's an experience worth every bang for your buck! #southcarolinaian

  • Aug 30, 2020 by Michael Turnage

    South Carolina has so much history as a Southern State; The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room shares much of The Palmetto State’s History with anyone who visits the Room. South Carolina’s leadership took control of the seven Southern States known as “The Cotton States “ in the 1860s as the South struggled with problems brought on by Her Northern neighbors . As South Carolina natives we can be very proud of our State and Her State Leaders as they boldly lived and protected The Palmetto State during a most challenging and unfair time. Remember, it was many of our Ancestors who had to “step up to the plate” and take control of that difficult time known to many Southerners as “The Late Unpleasantness.”

  • Aug 27, 2020 by Fran D

    Been here many times.

  • Aug 22, 2020 by Jane Moody

    Led Zeppelin show in planetarium was cool.
    Then visited the SC Women in Politics exhibit. Really interesting.

  • Aug 19, 2020 by Brandy Hughes

    Had so much fun with my daughter here! So much to do and learn

  • Aug 02, 2020 by Sean Saville

    The state museum is amazing it has a nice gift shop an observatory, planetarium, and a 4d theater and it has some great exhibits including exhibits on animals and regions of South Carolina and great exhibits on the history of south Carolina including the revolutionary war, the hl hunley, fort moultrie and other things about the history of South Carolina

  • Jul 26, 2020 by Stone Hood

    Just visited the Sherlock Holmes Exhibit and worked with my brother to solve the case. I am a grown man and I was challenged and perplexed at the incredible attention to detail behind the exhibit. I've been to escape rooms before and while this is an open world detective solution with no time crunch, I truly felt immersed in the world and enticed by the storyline to complete the objectives. I am a massive fan of Sherlock Holmes and for those fellow fans out there, this exhibit is one of the very best experiences with the lore of Holmes and Watson that I have ever experienced. Bring the whole family and lose yourself for hours trying to connect the clues and solve the case... Indubitably.

  • Jun 04, 2020 by lindsey nelson

    I love the museum and all of the special exhibits. a little nervous that they are opening so soon

  • Jun 01, 2020 by Brian

    I was definitely impressed it was much more than I expected this is a beautiful Museum and has so much to see and appreciate and enjoy. Lots to read and lots to learn if you desire knowledge it's available for you here

  • Mar 10, 2020 by Malissa St. Vincent

    The Holmes exhibit was fun! I'm a huge fan of interactive exhibits. It was my bad luck that a couple high school classes were there at the same time, but still enjoyable.

  • Mar 04, 2020 by Heralen Maldonado

    First time in this museum, so much to learn from here

  • Mar 04, 2020 by Heralen Maldonado

    First time in this museum, so much to learn from here

  • Feb 26, 2020 by Whitney Gibson

    So this was my first time at this museum ever. I truly enjoyed myself and the exhibits. I got to see one of the planetarium shows as well and that was definitely fun to do. We were there for 2 or 3 hours and still didn't see everything. I look forward to the next time we visit though.

  • Jan 29, 2020 by WILLIAM E. LEGARE

    Saw 4D Sherlock Holmes cartoon movie. 3D and additional 4D effects were GREAT.
    Being a Member has many Benefits. Plenty of parking. Fully HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE, elevators make it very easy to navigate the 4 floors.

  • Jan 22, 2020 by Amanda Boyce

    Fun, interactive, and enjoyable for all ages. The staff are available, friendly, and willing to help when needed. Price is great, and the museum is absolutely full of fun, interactive, and interesting exhibits for all ages. We love the state museum!

  • Jan 19, 2020 by Jereme Hardy

    We came for the NASA exhibit, but we're really surprised at how great the other exhibits were. We saw two shows, one at the 4D theater and one in the planetarium. Both were great and the kids loved them.

    The museum features four stories of various themed exhibits, including the NASA and Apollo exhibit, fossils and dinosaurs, and South Carolina history. There was also a Sherlock Holmes feature, but we did not explore that because our children didn't seem interested. I was surprised at the amount of things to explore and we spent a good amount of the day here, which is more than I can say for the EdVenture museum across the parking lot.

  • Jan 19, 2020 by Mia Brown Smith

    Very clean and organized. I loved that they had several elevators for our stroller and for handicapped folks. The staff was very friendly and the exhibits were fascinating. The thing I liked most was there was a family room on the bottom floor that was available for nursing moms.

  • Dec 29, 2019 by Mary C.

    This was a confusing museum for me. It was a little bit of everything--history, art, and science. I think I'm just used to seeing these topics in separate museums but this was all related to South Carolina. It killed about two hours and I can't say that there was anything memorable here. But it was good to learn more about South Carolina and it's history!

  • Dec 28, 2019 by Megan Steele

    Fun way to pass an afternoon. We enjoyed the planetarium showing and examining the third floor's science and technology exhibits. Any fan of astronomy will enjoy the special exhibit of telescopes through the ages.

  • Nov 28, 2019 by Louise S.

    Was visiting the son and decide to spend some time here. Large museum with different sections. Loved the shark exhibit. Was able to see a planetarium movie on the star of Bethlehem. Also saw a 3D movie on the Polar Express. Good upfront parking. Nice store. Worth the trip. Nice, Nice employees.

  • Nov 23, 2019 by Robert U.

    Went to this museum last month and was very impressed at the sheer breadth of material this institution has on display. From prehistoric animals that roamed the area millions of years ago to the early stages of the state's history, it literally has it all. The State's shameful history of slavery is on full unflinching display here. There are two versions of Eli Whitney's cotton gin, copies of the state's declaration of secession and the contributions of native Americans here as well. The astronomy exhibit is is incredibly extensive as well. It has an observatory with a very polite employee who was more than happy to to show us the observatory and explain how it observed our Sun on a daily basis. You really have to see it to believe it.

  • Nov 06, 2019 by Greg Moore

    Excellent museum! Wish I had more time they were closing before I finished. Of course I didn't get there early enough.
    If you go take note of the construction model of the floors in the museum. It used to be a cotton mill and that is one solid structure. Love it!

  • Aug 04, 2019 by Crystal R.

    I've been here soooo many times and never get bored the first Sunday of the month is $1 can't beat a bargain there's always something new if you go every few months . It's great

  • May 18, 2019 by Willie D.

    I came here for a event called A Taste of Black Columbia which showcase many black owed businesses in the Columbia,S.C. area and was sponsored by many companies including Jack Daniels,Pepsi and Mc Daniels automotive group. The food ranged from good down home cooking to upscale dishes like quail wrapped in bacon. A VIP package was sold for $300.00(wow !) which included front row seating for the show that night. Dress was from casual neat to gowns & suits and beyond(some dressed like they were going to the Oscars LOL) which everyone looked great overall. Mac & cheese,collared greens, baked salmon,pulled pork and many types of deserts .Jack Daniels was the drink of the night and they even had Honey flavored their also, which is my favorite. The last hour we had Grammy nominated R &B singer Ledisi perform and as always she did a great show(you see i'm a fan!). parking was not that bad but me I took a Uber and a Lyft back and forth to the event which I had a "few" drinks and wanted to be safe.I'm truly hoping to come back next year as this was the 9th year for it. Checkout my Pics and see for yourself

  • Apr 26, 2019 by Rob D.

    Paid $6 for access to the military /Confederate museum room Well worth the price of admission. Nice exhibits and helpful staff. Restrooms are absolutely disgusting though so use those at your own risk

  • Apr 09, 2019 by Danielle P.

    This is one of the museums that I visited 6yrs ago when I moved to SC. We visited all the history, govt bldgs., parks, art, libraries, farms and museums on the weekends for a few mths, great way to get yourself familiar to a community. Most of them have coupons for all or free for military. SC museum is about the state of SC's history strong emphasis on war, industry, dinosaurs, ocean animals, and agriculture. Adults and children need to learn your history since we don't get the full truth in school. Great way to spend a Saturday in the COLA. The museum is a pretty good size bldg. lots of parking, clean, bathrooms are well kept. Great displays giving all the details of events in history. Don't forget the Cotton Exchange for a little shopping or books. Your kids will love this outing! They offer programs thru out the yr.

  • Jan 19, 2019 by Noemi T.

    It is a nice museum. Would be better of all the exhibits worked. Most halfway worked.

  • Oct 18, 2018 by Shannon D.

    I have two reviews for the museum. One is for the actual museum and he second is for he Oz event. I have been when there isn't an event and for Oz. The museum has plenty of parking and offer a military discount. There is also a cafe. The museum is clean and mostly well maintained. A few displays had broken buttons but for the most part everything is intact. The displays are interesting and cover local history, dinosaurs, ocean animals, wars, etc. On average we spend 2-3 hours here. The Cotton Mill Exchange store is awesome! From SC gifts to books to clothing. I'm sure you'll find something to as a memento. Now for Oz- Well, I have two opinions on it. If you don't frequently visit the museum, then yes stop by. If you're strictly going for the Oz, it may be worth passing over this year. We had a blast because 1. My sister is a diehard Oz fan. Borderline problematic; in a good way.  2. We just moved back home so everything is exciting to my boys. 3. My sis said it wasn't comparable to other years (no outside vendors, no music, no beer) 4. The 4d show was awesome. That part was worth it to me.  But we also played in the museum for 2.5 hours after we did the Oz part.  The crafts were well thought out (collage, witches brew - slime, experiment to make witch disappear, make poppies) All in all we had a great time in just not sure the Oz event was five stars this year.

  • Jul 25, 2018 by Marlana M.

    Easy to navigate. Caters to all ages. We are a homeschooling family and love this museum. Kids love the planetarium. Haven't eaten in any of the eateries yet. But staff is always kind and smiling.

  • May 31, 2018 by Florence Y.

    A wonderful museum with lots of interesting hands-on activities. We spent about 90 minutes there. Pricing is very affordable and there's discount for military/veterans.

  • Apr 23, 2018 by Thomasina R.

    Loved it.  A lot going on, check out the website.  Exhibits are very informative, and entertaining.  Did not get a chance to visit planetarium or movie theater.  Arrived too late in afternoon for that.  Would make better plans next time

  • Mar 01, 2018 by Rachel S.

    I take my 80 third graders to the museum every year and we LOVE IT. This is the least stressful field trip for us as teachers because the staff is wonderful. They are there to greet us on the curb, they interact with the children and are great teachers! This year we visited the planetarium which was a huge hit for adults and kids alike, and the Matter Matters workshop, where they taught the kids all about matter in an engaging way, finishing with giving us marshmallows frozen in liquid nitrogen! As always the kids love exploring the museum, from the giant shark to the old timey school house and the mind bending optical illusions. My only complaint is not enough time to spend here!

  • Jan 10, 2018 by Shydeia C.

    I've loved attending the South Carolina State Museum! Several events associated with USC and the African American Studies department have been phenomenal and I look forward to future events! I would love to see them getting more involved with high school and college students. It feels like a gap between children and adults.

  • Oct 26, 2017 by Marqus R.

    South Carolina State Museum is, as a state museum all about the state of South Carolina, with the possible exception of the planetarium. There is a strong emphasis on South Carolina agriculture, early industry, and wars. On the war count it seems that South Carolina has been involved in all of them and there is a separate Confederate Relic Room dedicated almost exclusively to matters involving the Civil War. It's a beautiful building with everything about it appear new, bright, well planned and done right. I usually fall in love with museums but for whatever reason I couldn't get excited about things here. However, though I can't say I'm a fan, it does rate Four Stars.

  • Oct 18, 2017 by Elena M.

    While visiting Columbia, I mistakenly came here because I thought it was the Children's Museum, and I'm glad I did! The staff was very sweet, including at the cafe. I didn't realize how much I could still learn about the history of South Carolina and the South in general, so I was very pleased with this great learning tool. My toddler LOVED the train set diorama and the life size houses. The giant shark and the interactive Wizard of Oz exhibits were awesome, and "the Yellow brick road" photo op at the Oz gift shop was a nice touch. The main gift shop was one of the best of its kind - I got Civil War coloring books and South Carolina crayons for my daughter to keep busy while at the hotel, and I couldn't tell you who enjoyed them more.

  • Sep 16, 2017 by Sherry C.

    Columbia is so lucky to have such a great museum. We love it!  It's really a great place to spend an afternoon. Fun place for all ages. And I love the exhibits that are brought in. We've been fortunate to see some really great exhibits in our town. This museum really covers a lot of history....mainly SC history. The Planetarium is amazing!!! Such a great addition. And it was wonderful having it during the eclipse to really give us a good idea what to expect on the day of the eclipse. And a special thanks to Bob Aerial for the amazing telescopes!  I can't imagine him having so many beautiful telescopes.  Thanks Bob for your generous donation!  On Tuesday nights you can go see some really cool planets and other sires. Check Facebook to see what's going on. If you haven't been.... you're missing something!

  • Jun 06, 2017 by Elizabeth P.

    I attended the wonderful free family oriented Story Fest SC event last Saturday, along with my daughter and her family. What a great day! Encouraging literacy and education, exploring history and science. Kuddos to the museum, staff and volunteers! This was my first time visiting this fine regional museum. I hope that we will be able to go back at other times during our visits to SC.