Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Museum of the Week – The Rice Museum

Posted 7/20/2011 2:48:00 PM

In the years before the Revolutionary War, no one thought of planting rice in the swampy area around Georgetown. Indigo, which was in high demand in Britian, was the major crop. It created the dye that made the British Royal Navy’s uniforms that deep, rich “navy” blue.

Of course the Revolution meant that Britain was no longer buying American indigo or anything else, so Georgetown farmers began experimenting with rice.

The Rice Museum in Georgetown traces the history of rice cultivation in the state and gives an in-depth look at how the crop was grown and how it transformed the South. Dioramas clearly depict the dykes that allowed farmers to control the flooding of their fields and an informative video, The Garden of Gold, gives a historical overview of rice in America.

Rice arrived in South Carolina in the late 1600s, but farmers didn’t really know how to grow the tropical crop in their marshy fields. Luckily for plantation owners, South Carolina was the new home of a population of people who were experts on rice culture: West African-born slaves. With their slaves’ knowledge of rice cultivation and their backbreaking labor, American plantation owners were able to make rice a huge cash crop.

Your tour of the Rice Museum includes admission to the Old Market and Kaminski Hardware Buildings, which date back to 1842.

The buildings are filled with interesting artifacts and displays on local history. Some include important locals like Joseph Hayne Rainey, who was born into slavery but went on to become the first African-American man to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Also, not to be missed is the “Browns Ferry Vessel,” the oldest existing boat of colonial manufacture in the United States.

The Rice Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for students ages 6-21 and free for kids 5 and younger.