The main purpose for my trip to Spartanburg was a visit to the Spartanburg Regional History Museum. Thanks to a donor, admission to the museum is free* the first Thursday-Saturday of each month.
The museum’s designers took advantage of modern technology and inventive ideas to fill a small space with loads of information. Located in the Chapman Cultural Center – 200 E. St. John Street, the museum takes up just a portion of the Moseley Building’s second floor but despite its small size, it still manages to offer visitors a lot to see and do.
The museum’s exhibits start with the Native American inhabitants and continue through modern day. That’s a lot of time to cover in a small space, so the museum’s central area is set up almost like a chemistry lab with tall counters and stools. Visitors can get basic information by viewing the information laid out on the counters, but additional treasures including books, maps, arrowheads, pottery, and other artifacts can easily be accessed by pulling out the many drawers or peering in the built-in shelves below the main counter area. For me, this added an element of fun and exploration. The main exhibit space also featured a touch screen timeline that provided more details and helped put important local happenings in the context of national occurrences.
Here are two of the main exhibit items.
The first is the Juan Pardo stone found near Inman, SC. This is said to mark the Spanish explorer’s route when he passed through the area in 1567 on his way to the Piedmont.
There were also exhibits on local life ranging from social to economic including an emphasis on the textile mills that dominated the area’s economy for decades.
I particularly liked the cluster of small doors that were used to tell the area’s story through important dates and “Spartanburg by the Numbers.” The act of opening the doors and seeing an artifact with a date/number helped me to retain what I had learned.
It’s a very nice museum. You won’t need more than 60-90 minutes to explore it but you won’t be disappointed by the time you’ve spent.
*This information is accurate as of Jan. 2012.