The Laurens County Museum has re-designed and our exhibits have been moved from our first location at 205 West Laurens Street to our new location across the street from the Historic Courthouse - 116 South Public Square, Laurens, SC. See below for details on the various exhibits.
The new location opened January 2, 2022 and features three Exhibit Halls:
- The First Nations Hall (Native American)
- The Tony Harper Exhibit Hall
- The Visiting Exhibit Hall.
The museum is designed around six themes and the new design will provide considerable flexibility moving forward. Most exhibits are moveable displays and will change over time.
First Nations Exhibit Hall
This room is dedicated to the people who lived in our area for thousands of years prior to European settlement. The Laurens County Museum owns several extensive Native American collections that are on display. Additionally, there will be information regarding archaeological excavations and a re-creation of the Cherokee living environment.
The Tony Harper Exhibit Hall
This hall features the following exhibits:
- Worship in Laurens County
This exhibit is dedicated to the role of spirituality and religion in Laurens County.
- Learning in Laurens County
This exhibit traces the rich history of education in Laurens County.
- Serving in Laurens County
This exhibit is dedicated to both military and police service in Laurens County.
- Working in Laurens County
This exhibit pays tribute to agriculture and industry in Laurens County.
- Witherspoon Bedroom
You may not know the reason the Laurens County Museum Association was given the Witherspoon Building. It was because the 1850s bedroom furniture donated by Mr. Witherspoon in 2012 was too large for our old building. Mr. Witherspoon’s solution: A new building. It was his request that the bedroom furniture be prominently displayed in its new location. It is the first exhibit you see when you enter the Tony Harper Exhibit Hall.
The Visiting Exhibit Hall
This exhibit hall features rotating traveling exhibits. We are very honored and excited that the first exhibit that will occupy this space is the Smithsonian Institution's Voices and Votes: Democracy in America. It will be in our visiting exhibit room From June 4-July 16, 2022. You can read more about this exhibit below.
Teaching curriculum will be developed for each of these themes and made available to schools and other organizations interested in “digging deeper” into the prehistory and history of Laurens County.
Our first curriculum kit was completed this summer. The lesson “Becoming a Historian” was made in collaboration with the Joe Adair Center for use in their summer program. The kit included artifacts, lesson plans, and worksheets. There will be many more curriculum kits developed over the next two years. To find out more about these kits and how to order, email us.
COMING THIS SUMMER
JUNE 4 - JULY 16, 2022
The Laurens County Museum has been selected by South Carolina Humanities to be one of the host sites for an exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution during the summer of 2022. This is an honor, as only six were chosen as part of the Museum on Main Street Program. The name of the exhibit is "Voices and Votes: Democracy in America" and will be in our visiting exhibit room From June 4-July 16, 2022. Stay tuned for more as we move forward.
About the Exhibit
The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street, in cooperation with South Carolina Humanities Council, presents “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America.” The exhibition examines the nearly 250-year-old American experiment of a government “of, by and for the people,” and how each generation since then continues to question how to form “a more perfect union.” Opening at the Laurens County Museum June 4, 2022, “Voices and Votes” will be on view through July 16, 2022.
Laurens County Museum and the surrounding community has been chosen by the South Carolina Humanities Council, to host “Voices and Votes” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations.
“Voices and Votes” explores the action, reaction, vision and revision that democracy demands as Americans continue to question how to shape the country. From the revolution and suffrage to civil rights and casting ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever-evolving story—the story of democracy in America. Exhibition sections explore the origins of American democracy, the struggles to obtain and keep the vote, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. “Voices and Votes” features historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games; and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.
Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, “Voices and Votes” will serve as a community meeting place for conversations about democracy, the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens, participating in government, and more.
“Voices and Votes” is based on an exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History called American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith.
The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about “Voices” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit museumonmainstreet.org.
Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.
The Laurens County Museum is home to several interesting collections. Among them are three display collections and one research collections of Native American Artifacts. Additionally, the museum has 30 historic quilts and 118 glass paperweights in its collection. We have a sizable collection from Laurens Glass Works, a military collection, a Rococo Revival bedroom suite donated by Mr. Witherspoon’s family, and more.
Check out the resources and findings in genealogy and archaeology.
The Laurens County Museum is home to the Laurens County Genealogy Society meets regularly in our Magnolia Room. See the site calendar for specific events and meetings. For more information, their website can be accessed by clicking here.
Archaeological Research Lab
The Laurens County Museum is an extremely unusual museum. We are home to a large archaeological research collection obtained from several prehistoric and two historic archaeological sites located in the Upstate. It is unusual for a museum of any kind to have an archaeology lab and research collections of this caliber are usually housed at universities or government agencies.
One of the sites in the collection is the only site in the state of South Carolina that is owned by the Archaeological Conservancy. The conservancy was founded in 1980 with the express purpose of purchasing important and endangered archaeological sites and holding them in perpetuity for future generations.
The research collection was turned over to the Laurens County Museum by The Piedmont Archaeological Studies Trust (P.A.S.T.).
These materials will be made available for research purposes. It is our hope that the lab will become a training ground for students and volunteers interested in learning about archaeological lab and field work. The lab will be fully opened next summer.
The Piedmont Archaeological Studies Trust is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation dedicated to illuminating our prehistoric and historic understanding of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge of the Carolinas.
The library is located at 205 West Laurens Street, in Laurens, SC.
We do not allow our books to be checked out, but welcome you to come in and peruse them during the hours that building is open. You can also explore our library holdings online by clicking here.