Florence might not be a metropolis, but when it comes to arts and cultural events, you’ll feel like you’re in a big city. A vibrant arts scene and cutting-edge facilities not only provide outlets for the area’s many artists, but impressive venues for lovers of theater, music and visual arts.
Florence County Museum
A “must” on any art lover’s visit to the Pee Dee, the Florence County Museum is home to works by William H. Johnson, a Florence native and acclaimed 20th-century African-American artist. You can also see the Wright Collection of Southern Art, featuring works by Alice Huger Smith, Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, Mary Whyte and more. Rotating exhibits and a dynamic collection of artifacts dating back to the Cretaceous Period make this a museum you’ll want to linger in. The handsome building opened in 2014 in Florence’s downtown, so dining, coffee shops and boutiques are just a few steps away.
Conveniently located near the I-20/I-95 interchange, the Florence Center serves as a major event venue for concerts, theatrical productions, conferences and more. With 10,000 seats, the arena has been the site of sporting matches, circuses, rodeos, WWE events, gun and knife shows and family-pleasing extravaganzas like Disney on Ice and Sesame Street Live.
Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center
Another downtown jewel, this state-of-the-art venue features an 849-seat main theater, a 100-seat black box theater, an amphitheater, practice rooms and labs for students studying music at FMU. Past performances include Mary Chapin Carpenter, Graham Nash, the Second City comedy troupe, Indigo Girls, violinist Francisco Cabán and other big names. It is home to the Florence Symphony Orchestra, which performs several shows throughout the season, the Masterworks Choir and South Carolina Dance Theatre. Chamber music performances are another local favorite.
This downtown community art gallery is overseen by the Florence County Museum and is home to art openings and a rotating lineup of art shows and related events.
Florence Little Theatre
This local institution has been entertaining Florence since 1923 when it was known as the Community Players. Since then, it has had a few homes, but none to compare with the 394-seat theater that opened in downtown in 2008. This playhouse has a reputation for excellence and holds the distinction of being the first community theater group in South Carolina to perform “Les Miserables.” The talent you’ll see on stage is on par with or surpassing anything you will see at other community theaters across the state.
Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation Library
Operating under the umbrella of the Florence County Library System, this stately, 83,000-square-foot downtown facility features art exhibits, demos, literary events, musical performances and more throughout the year.
Francis Marion University
This institution might operate the impressive FMU Performing Arts Center, but its campus is also central to many local arts and entertainment experiences. Immerse yourself in rotating art exhibits—ceramics, textiles, sculpture, paintings and more—at the University’s Kassab Gallery. The Hyman Fine Arts building is the place to enjoy student theatrical productions and other artistic offerings. The campus is also home to the Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival, welcoming Pulitzer Prize and other award-winning literati to campus for a two-day celebration each November.
Lynda English Studio Gallery
Local artists Lynda English and Jackie Wukela not only exhibit local works of art in various mediums in this gallery but offer art classes to the community, too. Stop by and browse or sign up for a class. No experience required!