Charleston Museums and Galleries
The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St., French Quarter
With a 100 year history in the same building, the Gibbes Museum was more than due for a renovation. The building itself is the only Beaux Arts building in Charleston, and the renovation is really a celebration of its original layout: The two year makeover uncovered, cleaned up, and put on display original details like tile, original wood, and gorgeous stained glass. The renovation also neatly divided the building into distinct spaces—the first floor is open to the public, with a library, shop, and public programs; the second floor shows works from their collection (more than 10,000 strong); and the third floor offers contemporary artwork and visiting exhibitions. If you're there during the week, stop by on a Wednesday night, when you can hear lectures and watch film screenings on the ground level.
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
161 Calhoun St., Harleston Village
Conveniently located on campus, very close to King Street, the College of Charleston’s Halsey Institute is one of the city’s only institutions exclusively devoted to contemporary art. Their program is targeted at mid-career artists, which means that you’ll inevitably see someone for the first time that you’re likely to see again at a larger show. Look out for their student retrospectives, artists in residence program, and collaborations with other departments—they also do artist lectures and film screenings that are open to the public.