The 10 Best Museums in Greenville

Greenville Center for Creative Arts
Greenville Center for Creative Arts.

Courtesy of Greenville Center for Creative Arts

Located in South Carolina's Upstate in the shadow of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville is a year-round destination known for its stunning parks and wealth of recreational activities, celebrated restaurants, walkable downtown, and overall family-friendly vibe. The city also has several must-see museums, many of them offering free admission. You'll find a cluster of museums dedicated to fine art, musical instruments, and children's discovery clustered on the Heritage Green arts and cultural campus downtown, while those venturing further out can experience a world-class science center and planetarium, art galleries, and more. Use this guide to plan your trip to Greenville's top museums.

01 of 10

Roper Mountain Science Center

Roper Mountain Science Center

Courtesy of Roper Mountain Science Center

402 Roper Mountain Rd, Greenville, SC 29615, USA
Phone +1 864-355-8900

This science academy is part of the Greenville County School District but has many programs available to the general public. The most popular of these is the "Friday Starry Nights" show at the T.C. Hooper Planetarium, with two separate viewings and presentations dedicated to astronomy and space exploration in a 360-degree, full immersion dome. Admission also includes access to the Charles E. Daniel Observatory, with a historic 23-inch refractor telescope—the eighth largest in the world. The Roper Mountain property also has a 1-mile nature trail, butterfly garden, and living history farm, making it an ideal destination for families.

02 of 10

Greenville Center for Creative Arts

Two level brick building with a sign that says "GCCA"

Courtesy of Greenville Center for Creative Arts

101 Abney St, Greenville, SC 29611, USA
Phone +1 864-735-3948

Housed in the historic Brandon Mill in the Village of West Greenville, this community art space includes galleries dedicated to resident artists as well as local, regional, and international visual artists. Both the main and community galleries and accompanying exhibits are free and open to the public every Tuesday through Saturday. The center also hosts touring exhibits, summer camps, and art classes in photography, clay, jewelry, and other mediums. Come on the first Friday of each month to meet in-studio artists between 5 to 8 p.m. or book an appointment to tour their studios during off-hours.

03 of 10

Greenville County Museum of Art

Greenville County Museum of Art

Mira Photographs/Michelle Mogavero

420 College St, Greenville, SC 29601-2017, USA
Phone +1 864-271-7570

Located on the Heritage Green cultural campus downtown, this free museum is home to the world's largest public collection of Andrew Wyeth watercolors. The museum's permanent collection also includes a significant number of paintings and prints by South Carolina contemporary artist Jasper Johns, a substantial pottery collection by David Drake, and one of the largest collections of works by South Carolina-born artist William H. Johnson. Additional highlights include a large Southern collection with works ranging from early colonial-era pastel portraits to American impressionism and abstract expressionism.

The Greenville County Museum of Art is currently closed for construction and is scheduled to reopen in Fall 2021.

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Children's Museum of the Upstate

colorful sculpture in front of The Children's Museum of the Upstate

Courtesy of The Children's Museum of the Upstate

300 College St, Greenville, SC 29601, USA
Phone +1 864-233-7755

Also part of the Heritage Green area downtown, the Children's Museum of the Upstate is an affordable, fun activity for families. Explore three floors of interactive exhibits ranging from playing with sound and instruments to discovering indigenous wildlife and natural resources to building miniature dams and learning about the area's water systems. The Children's Museum also has an outdoor recreation area, an on-site cafe, a play pond for toddlers, a rock climbing wall, and a nine-hole putt-putt course.

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05 of 10

Sigal Music Museum

Sigal Music Museum on a cloudy day at night

Courtesy of Visit Greenville

516 Buncombe St, Greenville, SC 29601, USA
Phone +1 864-520-8807

The newest addition to Heritage Green, the Sigal is located in a historic building that was once a Coca-Cola Bottling Company and is home to one of the world's largest collections of musical instruments. In addition to hundreds of pieces in its permanent collection—which include a harpsichord played by Mozart, a 19th-century hurdy-gurdy, and a soprano recorder dating to 1710—the museum hosts visiting exhibits and regular concerts and performances by renowned local and international artists.

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Upcountry History Museum -Furman University

Upcountry History Museum

Courtesy of Upcountry History Museum

540 Buncombe St, Greenville, SC 29601-1906, USA
Phone +1 864-467-3100

Want to learn more about the history, art, and culture of the Upstate? Head to this family-friendly, two-story museum, with interactive exhibits, colorful murals, and video presentations dedicated to the region's history from the indigenous peoples to its role as a world textile powerhouse to the present day. The museum also hosts rotating exhibits, day camps for children, guest lectures, and book clubs and is open Tuesdays through Sundays, except on major holidays.

07 of 10

SE Center for Photography

Black and white photos of a group of people looking a photography in a gallery

Courtesy of SE Center for Photography

116 E Broad St, Greenville, SC 29601-2812, USA
Phone +1 864-605-7400

Part gallery, part community hub, the SE Center in downtown features three gallery spaces with rotating exhibitions from local, national, and international photographers selected via juries and submission calls, plus a bookstore, lounge, and classroom space. The center also hosts workshops for artists of all abilities and special events including artist and author talks.

08 of 10

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library

bronze statue of the baseball player Shoeless Joe

Courtesy of Shoeless Joe Museum

356 Field St, Greenville, SC 29601-3541, USA
Phone +1 864-346-4867

Located across the street from Fluor Field—home of the Greenville Drive, a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox—this museum is dedicated to the life of the Upstate-born, Greenville-raised baseball legend Joe Jackson. While no longer on its original plot of land, the museum is housed in the former residence of Joe Jackson and his wife. Open on home game days as well as Saturdays, the museum has interactive exhibits dedicated to Jackson's life in the Textile League, his controversial career, and life post-baseball, as well as an on-site research library with over 2,000 books dedicated to the sport. Don't miss the life-sized bronze statue of Jackson next to the Greenville Drive Team Store at Fluor Field.

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09 of 10

Kilgore-Lewis House

560 N Academy St, Greenville, SC 29601, USA
Phone +1 864-232-3020

Built in 1838 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Palladian-style home is the oldest surviving structure in Greenville County. While the original house was located near Buncombe Street United Methodist Church downtown, it was moved to North Academy Street in the 1970s and is now surrounded by a pond, restored spring, and extensive gardens and serves as the home of the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs, Inc. Take a free, docent-led tour on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or explore the public gardens and arboretum, which are open daily from sunrise to sunset.

10 of 10

BMW Zentrum Museum

people purchasing items in the BMW boutique gift shop

Courtesy of BMW Group

1400 SC-101, Greer, SC 29651-6799, USA
Phone +1 888-868-7269

Car aficionados will want to visit the only BMW museum in North America, located on the campus of the automobile company's Greer plant. Open Monday through Friday for self-guided tours, the interactive museum has exhibits dedicated to the company's history and technology, as well as a large display of current and historic cars, including the Isetta Bubblecar, plus a gift shop and a small cafe.

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The 10 Best Museums in Greenville