For Women’s History Month, The Charleston Museum is proud to display a special temporary exhibit honoring the first woman director of the Museum and the first of any publicly funded museum in the U.S., Laura Bragg.
Laura Bragg (1881-1978), initially hired as a librarian in 1909 under the leadership of Paul Rea, became Director in 1920 and continued to influence the field and Charleston as a whole. Among her accomplishments were the creation of the Charleston Free Library, opening the Museum to African Americans in a time when such public access was often limited to them, overseeing the purchase of the Heyward-Washington House, and the creation and implementation of Bragg Boxes for local schools. Bragg Boxes consisted of special learning materials, which incorporated natural history specimens or historic dioramas, that were sent to schools throughout the Charleston area, both black and white.
Bragg also greatly expanded the breadth and depth of the Museum’s collections, including the acquisition of significant pieces of Edgefield pottery, made by David “Dave” Drake, an enslaved craftsman, who produced some of the most impressive pieces of these ceramics.
A century after she became its Director, her legacy is still very much alive in the Museum’s collections, historic preservation and educational programs. The Museum’s current Director, Carl Borick, notes that “Bragg was a woman ahead of her time, providing key leadership for the Museum shortly after it became independent of the College of Charleston, playing a key role in Charleston’s preservation movement and expanding educational opportunities for adults and children regardless of race in an era of Jim Crow.”
Now on display this March, view the temporary exhibit honoring Laura Bragg, her legacy and artifacts from her time as Director of The Charleston Museum. Items on display include original pieces of Edgefield pottery, Bragg’s personal belongings (coat, bag, fans) and original Bragg Boxes. Join Chief of Collections, Jennifer McCormick on March 13th at 10:30 am for Conversations with a Curator, to dive deeper into the life of Laura Bragg. This talk is free for Museum members and free with admission to The Charleston Museum. For more information on the exhibit, click here.