Myrtle Beach, SC - The Grand Strand - Vacation Travel Guide

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Myrtle Beach Area Features

Brookgreen Gardens

  By: Jacquelyn Eurice
Photo Credit: Brookgreen Gardens

The masterful blending of art with a picturesque landscape is proudly on display at one of South Carolina’s most beloved destinations. It’s a place frequented by locals and they will undoubtedly advise visitors to explore it. This sanctuary for both animals and sculpture is nestled in the historic and natural setting of Brookgreen Gardens.

History from colonial times will begin to emerge along a guided tour of the grounds. This area was once home to four different plantations that harvested rice, a major cash crop of South Carolina in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Alston family owned The Oaks, one of the more notable plantations that now make up Brookgreen Gardens. Joseph Alston was the 44th governor of South Carolina. His wife, Theodosia Burr Alston, was the daughter of Vice President Aaron Burr. She was tragically lost at sea while sailing to see her father aboard the Patriot. Mystery still surrounds the ship’s disappearance.

Another plantation, Brookgreen, was owned by Joshua John Ward, the “King of the Rice Planters.” His fortune was amassed by growing “Carolina Gold” rice, which was extremely coveted for its unique fragrance and versatility.

However, it wasn’t until the 1930s that Archer Huntington, also founder of the Mariners’ Museum in Virginia, established Brookgreen Gardens. His wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, was a talented sculptor, and this property became a permanent home to her many works. The couple resided nearby at “Atalaya,” a Moorish-style castle now managed by Huntington Beach State Park.

Today, more than 2,000 works of art from over 350 different artists are at Brookgreen Gardens, where they are
interspersed among the indigenous plants and moss-covered trees that decorate the vast acreage.

But Brookgreen encompasses so much more. In fact, it has gained national acclaim due to its designation as not only a National Historic Landmark but also its accreditation with both the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Few other places can say the same. And yes, there is a zoo. Animals such as gray foxes, river otters and alligators that roam the Carolinian forests and marshes can be seen here. For avid bird-lovers, the Cypress Aviary hosts many species including ibises, egrets and herons. 

Ribbit the Exhibit

Hop on over to Brookgreen Gardens between April 1 and July 9 to see “Ribbit the Exhibit.” Created by artist J.A. Cobb, these whimsical sculptures portray frogs doing activities typically reserved for humans such as walking the dog, fishing, and dancing. The frogs are all made from copper but each is individualistic and reflects a distinct personality. Whenever they’re on display, it’s no surprise that people love to see these adorable creations and even return to visit them.

Prized Sculptures

For a chance to see some of the year’s best sculptures, visit Brookgreen Gardens between August 5 and October 29. A juried exhibition of artwork will be on display during the National Sculpture Society’s 84th Annual Awards Exhibition. Visitors to the gardens will be able to vote for one of the fifteen awards presented, the People’s Choice Award. The sculptures are among the best in America and are from artists who have become masters of their craft as well as from promising newcomers. Prepare to be astonished by the intricate detail of these beautiful works of art.

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