Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Bonus: Museum of the Week – The Florence Museum of Art, Science and History

Posted 6/9/2010 5:48:00 PM
A saucer from the Ming Dynasty, African tribal masks and a 10,000-year-old arrowhead are just a few treasures on display at the Florence Museum. The museum’s mission is, “to bring the Pee Dee to the world and the world to the Pee Dee,” and it fulfills that mission exceedingly well.

Jane Beverly Evans, an artist from Florence, helped found the museum in 1936. While traveling in the American Southwest during the 1920s, she met a man with the Santa Fe Museum. That museum had an excess of Native American pottery and they were looking for buyers. Evans saw this as an opportunity to begin a world-class art collection in her hometown and organized a purchase using funds that the League of Woman’s Services had left over from running a wartime tearoom to benefit the American Red Cross. The stunning collection of Southwestern native pottery still occupies one of the museum’s rooms today.

Another of my favorite rooms houses a miraculous collection of Asian artifacts that were brought back to South Carolina in the 1930s by missionaries hailing from Greenville. I could spend all day perusing the delicate designs on the china and examining the countless statuettes. Informative and interesting text accompanies the exhibits to provide cultural context. Especially fascinating is the display on foot binding, the traditional process by which women’s feet are contorted (and sometimes broken) from a young age in order to give them the appearance of delicate “lily feet.”

The collections are housed in a beautiful 1930s art-moderne building that is adjacent to the tranquil Timrod Park. The park offers a meandering creek, nature trails, tennis courts and picnic shelters. While the museum is small enough to fully investigate in an hour or so, the park offers the opportunity to turn your trip to Florence into a wonderful full day trip.

The Florence Museum of Art, Science and History is located at 558 Spruce St. and is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 2 to 5 p.m. Admission is $1. For more information visit www.florencemuseum.org.