During the year, the Coastal Discovery Museum hosts between 6 and 8 temporary exhibits in the Discovery House’s Temporary Exhibit Gallery. The exhibits vary in theme and subject matter related to Lowcountry history, natural history and art. Visiting the Coastal Discovery Museum’s exhibitions will introduce you to the many facets of Hilton Head Island.

Depending upon the exhibition, there are often demonstrations, talks and workshops offered during the year. Some artists will paint in the gallery or ‘plein air’ on site during their show while others will present workshops about how to take nature photographs. For our younger visitors, several of the exhibitions feature ‘scavenger hunts’ or other activities.

Many exhibitions have ‘artist coffees,’ demonstrations or classes offered during their installation. Here you can meet many of the exhibiting artists at gallery walks and coffees. It is a great opportunity to get to know the artists, their methods and vision for their works.

Please contact the Museum or check the event calendar for more information.

Click here to learn more about exhibiting at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Applications are accepted from individuals, groups, associations, not-for-profit organizations, galleries, or museums.


Santa Elena – Piece by Piece

September 8th through December 7th

In the 16th century, Spain claimed the New World, today known as North America, and named it La Florida. The Spanish founded Santa Elena on Parris Island in 1566 and it became the first capital of La Florida and the first successful European settlement on the Southeast coast. This city flourished for twenty years and was then abandoned and lost to history. Slowly, over the past 150 years archaeologists have discovered parts of this settlement and have pieced together its fascinating story. Ongoing research has revealed new fragments that include the stories of the Native American people who lived here for millennia; the enslaved Africans who first arrived in South Carolina in 1526, and the French, Spanish, and English explorers and settlers who fought fiercely over this land we now call home.


Inspirational Journey – Small Chapters

October 15th – November 30th (Sea Island Room in the Discovery House)

Inspirational Journey – Small Chapters will be hosted at the Coastal Discovery Museum from October 15th through November 30th. This exhibit features 28 small works by members of the National Association of Women Artists who share in the inspiration of Pat Conroy and their own journey as painters, photographers and multi-media artists. Each work in this exhibition is a small chapter of expression representing how Pat Conroy’s life or books have motivated each artist to create these 12″x12″ visual narratives.

This exhibition is offered in partnership with the Pat Conroy Literary Center, the National Association of Women Artists, Culture HHI, and the Coastal Discovery Museum. It is open during regular museum hours (Monday – Saturday from 9-4 and Sunday from 11-3). There is no charge to visit the exhibition.

Please check back for more information about virtual tours, presentations, or receptions soon.


South Carolina: The Food We Celebrate

December 14th – January 14th

Developed by the South Carolina State Museum and South Carolina Humanities, this  traveling exhibit celebrates iconic foods from communities around South Carolina – including several Lowcountry specialties!

South Carolina: The Food We Celebrate tells the story of selected foodways and how they are celebrated and shared. The State Museum and South Carolina Humanities collaborated with 22 organizations across SC to develop the content for the exhibit, highlighting 20 different iconic foodways such as BBQ, Chicken Bog, peaches and more.

The exhibit debuted at the South Carolina State Fair in the Fall of 2019 and is now traveling the state, allowing everyone the opportunity to serve up this exhibition banquet of South Carolina community cuisine.