“The Museum, founded in 1939, has been housed at many sites, finally coming home to The Arsenal in 2014,” Koolkin said. “This is our chance to ‘repaint the canvas’ and present our extensive collection, which tells the 500-year history of the Beaufort District, in a fresh and compelling manner utilizing new technologies and a modern approach.”
HW Exhibits, a Charleston-based exhibit design firm, was hired to create a cohesive theme, developing text and graphics based on the Museum’s collection of artifacts and images. The firm, headed by Carol Poplin, the HW Exhibits Director, will also handle fabrication and installation.
The long, narrow second floor space that houses the Museum was a primary consideration as Poplin and her team conceived their plan for the renovation. “Beaufort History Museum has a certain charm but the unique configuration of the Exhibit Hall had to be considered when planning the traffic flow and the perceived usage by guests.” Poplin said. “Will they wander back and forth across the space? Can they resume the chronological order once they are drawn to another section of the displays? All of this had to be taken into consideration to make their visit enjoyable and encourage a sense of discovery.”
The Museum’s materials are organized both chronologically and thematically. The 13,000 year history of the area is displayed in storyboards and organized into discrete subject areas such as First People, European Exploration, Rice and Cotton, the Civil War, 20th Century Tourism and many more
Thematically, Poplin said there are three sections:
- Ecology – examining how Beaufort District’s history is tied to the region’s geography, climate, landscape and ecology
- Discovery and early settlement – exploring American Indian lifeways through early exploration European settlement, the plantations era and the Civil War.
- Modernization and growth – focusing on 20th century industries such as oystering phosphates, the military, truck farming and tourism.
When the new exhibit hall opens the interpretive displays will represent Phase I of the renovation. Phase II, due to be completed next year, will include larger, centrally placed displays and visitor interaction enhanced with leading-edge technology.
Koolkin said that the Museum will remain open until the setting up of the new Exhibit in early May, when it will close for a few weeks during the installation period. The opening date will be announced once installation is complete.
The Arsenal address is 713 Craven Street. Normal BHM hours of operation are 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday – Saturday. Docents are on duty to provide information and conduct tours. Please visit beauforthistorymuseum.com or the BHM Facebook page for updates and news from the Museum, including special discounted admission prices to celebrate the Renovation.