Last updated: 5/26/2018
Charleston, South Carolina
Street Address
161 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Mailing Address
161 Calhoun Street
Suite 117
Charleston, SC 29424
phone: 843-953-4422
Hours during exhibitions:
Monday - Wednesday, Friday - Saturday11 AM - 4 PM
Thursday11 AM - 7 PM
Check our exhibition dates here:
Free admisson!
Museum Type(s)
Gift Shop
Online Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Lizz Biswell, Manager of Outreach and Engagement
phone: 843-953-5659

We originate between five and seven exhibitions per year, many of which travel nationally, and host a year-round schedule of lectures, panels, symposia, screenings, discussions, and special events. We also produce video documentaries about the artists and exhibitions that we originate. These videos provide keys to understanding the artist’s creative process and are permanently archived on our comprehensive website. We also produce award-winning publications for many of our exhibitions. These catalogues feature thoughtful commissioned essays that provide a meaningful context for the exhibitions and offer a permanent record of the artist’s project with the Halsey Institute.

Our emphasis has long been on providing audiences with privileged access to the creative process itself. We enjoy sharing our belief that there is much that can be learned by seeing how an artist turns “a thought into a thing.” Charleston, South Carolina has a remarkable history as a port city and cultural crossroads. The Halsey Institute is committed to building on and exploring the complex and sometimes troubling history of this place through diverse exhibitions and an international artist-in-residence program.


THE HALSEY INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART at the College of Charleston School of the Arts provides a multidisciplinary laboratory for the production, presentation, interpretation, and dissemination of ideas by innovative visual artists from around the world. As a non-collecting museum, we create meaningful interactions between adventurous artists and diverse communities within a context that emphasizes the historical, social, and cultural importance of the art of our time.


The Halsey Institute was originally named the Halsey Gallery for the artist William Halsey, an accomplished Charleston native whose modernist works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to note a few. Halsey was the first individual to teach a studio art course at the College of Charleston beginning in 1964, and he continued to teach here for twenty years. Upon his retirement in 1984, the Studio Art faculty voted to name the art gallery after him to honor his contribution to the arts in Charleston. Mr. Halsey died in 1999. Since 1984, the gallery bearing the Halsey name has presented hundreds of exhibitions by regional, national, and international artists. In 2005, the gallery changed its name to the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art to more accurately reflect the range of programming produced. Conceived as a non-collecting contemporary art facility, the Halsey Institute remains a vital cultural resource for the City of Charleston, the State of South Carolina and the region.

The Halsey Institute hosts between five and seven exhibitions per year, highlighting adventurous contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists of national stature. All exhibitions are accompanied by extensive educational programming. In addition, the Halsey Institute has maintained a strong international component over the years, bringing in artists from all over the world for residencies, lectures, and exhibitions. In 2012, the South Carolina Arts Commission presented the Halsey Institute the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award with special recognition to director Mark Sloan. This is the highest honor the state gives in the arts. In 2018, Mayor John Tecklenburg declared March 14 as William Halsey and Corrie McCallum Day in Charleston.

Educational Programs


LOOKING TO SEE provides structured guided tours and educational outreach to the general public, with a focus on K-12 schools, after-school programs, and community organizations. The Halsey is committed to increasing community engagement by providing greater access to contemporary art, and the tours are open to all interested groups and schools FREE of charge. The Halsey also offers travel subsidies, the Bus on Us initiative, to schools/groups that demonstrate an economic or geographic disadvantage. These subsidies are supported by the Henry and Sylvia Yaschik Foundation.


Tours are led by experienced guides and can be adapted to follow specific content or course objectives as well as being geared towards any age. Our discussion-based tours help students learn how to look closely, think critically, and engage with concepts and ideas related to art and their personal experiences. Through group conversations, students learn about the objects in the exhibition and gain an understanding of the context of the work and related themes and ideas. We believe that consistent exposure to art and art museums builds social capital for all students, helping them to navigate opportunities in the future. Our tours help educators create educational environments outside of the classroom through high-quality learning experiences.


ARTIST LECTURES accompany each exhibition the Halsey Institute originates. When possible, the lectures take place within the exhibition in the form of a gallery walk-through with the artist and curator. Check out our EVENTS page for all the upcoming artist lectures and additional exhibition programming.


FILM SCREENINGS are scheduled throughout the year and are free and open to the public. We show independent films, and the subject matter varies greatly, but the filmmaker is often in attendance for Q & A and discussion. Check our FILM page for information on upcoming films.


BIBLIOTECA is the Halsey Institute reference library that is open to the public for browsing. Biblioteca contains exhibition catalogues, art history books, artist monographs, rare books and books on uncommon topics. This is a non-lending library that offers a cornucopia of inspiration for those interested in visual culture.


EDUCATIONAL BROCHURES are often created to accompany our exhibitions to assist visitors in their understanding and appreciation of the artist's works on view. We've made these guides available online so you can revisit all your favorite past exhibitions and continue to learn about our shows. These brochures are supported by the Henry and Sylvia Yaschik Foundation.


Housed within the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston, less than a block away from the busiest pedestrian intersection in the state, the Halsey Institute’s public facilities include two interlinked museum quality exhibition spaces totaling 3,200 square feet, a dedicated media room, a reference library, and archive. In our complex, we have proximate access to two theater spaces, a recital hall, lecture hall, and film screening facility that we use for a variety of presentations. Our host institution, the College of Charleston, offers extraordinary academic and administrative resources. We interweave the intellectual capital around us into the fabric of our ongoing programming, working with faculty and international colleagues as guest curators, consultants, or advisors on specific projects.


Lecture Halls

Performance Areas


The Halsey Institute has 6 full-time and 2 part-time employees in addition to 6 interns each school semester and 10 volunteer tour guides. The Halsey Institute's Advisory Board is made up of 25 community members with a passion for our brand of art and a desire to share it with others. We are fortunate to have members with extraordinary expertise in a variety of fields. Our current crop includes philanthropists, collectors, lawyers, CEO’s, cultural producers, designers, financial services professionals, editors, writers, artists, architects, a historian, a former sportscaster (!), a publisher, community activists, and various other distinguished occupations.


Access: General Public, Students, Scholars

Appointment required: No


The Halsey Institute has produced many award-winning publications. They have won top awards from the American Alliance of Museums, the American Art Libraries Association, Graphis, Communication Arts, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. .

We also produce a bi-monthly newsletter or upcoming programs and exhibitions.


Wheelchair Accessible




Gift Shop

Online Gift Shop

Special Event Rental

Group Tours

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