McKissick Museum is one of the first buildings future Gamecocks encounter when they tour campus, so it's important to show them what the University of South Carolina is really all about. For just this reason, USC has opened “Invitation to Explore,” which gives a taste of what makes USC, and the state, unique.
The exhibit dives into multiple facets of South Carolina and the university with donated objects such as Southern stoneware, political memorabilia, fine art, minerals and other university artifacts.
“It’s the exhibit that everyone sees when they walk in the door,” McKissick communications manager Amanda Belue said. “That’s part of the reason that we put this exhibit down on the first floor, is all the visitors who come to the visitor center, that come in for tours, they get a really good sense of what McKissick does and in turn what the university does."
McKissick opened in 1976, committed to capture the essence of what South Carolina stands for, a full 12 years before the South Carolina State Museum officially opened.
“We tell the story of Southern life, community, culture and the environment,” Belue said. “So those three things we really try to highlight with everything in this exhibit.”
Picking and choosing what to show in an exhibit can be daunting, especially when dealing with the task of representing South Carolina accurately. Mark Smith, the curator for exhibition and collection management, said that they had a "curator's choice" to select the items that would be on display.
The exhibit is also good for getting different classes to come to McKissick and investigate their fields of study more passionately.
“We’re reaching out to people, to professors to let them say, ‘Hey, this is what we have on display,'" Smith said. "We try and work out a program where they can have their class come in and take a look at the objects."
The classes that tour McKissick range from geology and anthropology to visual arts and retail fashion management. As the communications manager, Belue is responsible for making these class visits possible.
“Invitation to Explore” is one of the best ways to get an introduction to everything McKissick has to offer. Other exhibits are “Fall into Sports,” “Nostalgia for Nature,” “Well Suited,” “Natural Curiosity” and “What They Found.” Each tackles a specific part of South Carolina’s history.
“This exhibit does exactly what its title says,” Belue said. “It invites you to explore the environment, the area, the culture that's around you everyday. You’ve got university history, so you get to learn about the place you’ve chosen to get an education.”
An exhibition reception for "Nostalgia for Nature," "Fall into Sports" and "What They Found" will be held at McKissick on Sept. 21 from 5:30-7 p.m.