The Morris Center
Where History, Culture and the Spirit of the Lowcountry Come to Life
February 2022 Issue
By Edwina Hoyle
Photography by T.R. Media World
There’s nothing like a good story. Our imagination is ignited, our curiosity is elevated and our desire for knowledge is quenched. The Lowcountry boasts fantastic, true stories based on local history, and one of the best places to learn more is the Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage in Ridgeland. It’s a learning and exhibition center dedicated to preserving and nurturing the history, culture and spirit of Jasper County and surrounding counties.
Their mission is to cultivate community understanding through education, preservation and celebration of the region’s rich history and culture. It is a facility where a wide diversity of people can gather to explore and learn about the area’s distinctive sense of place. Visitors will find dynamic exhibits, interactive learning opportunities, cultural offerings, storytelling and art. Executive Director Tamara Herring said, “We have a vast array of exhibitions where you can learn about the culture and traditions of the Lowcountry and enjoy the benefits of learning about where we live.”
Tamara added, “The museum is the brainchild of Danny Morris, who willed his property to become a completely free museum to tell the story of the community that he loved.” Morris was a visionary whose varied enterprises revitalized the area and impacted it economically, aesthetically and culturally, and preserving the history and culture of the Lowcountry was even closer to his heart.
“Programming drives visits to the museum, and when Covid hit, we quickly pivoted to virtual programs,” Tamara said. “Our virtual programming grew organically during the pandemic.” The result is that workshops are not limited by distance in getting top notch presenters, and they are now able to offer high quality workshops by national presenters. Called Virtually Speaking, anyone can access a wide variety of free workshops and speakers on their website.
Just to whet your appetite for lifelong learning, consider workshops on Piracy in the Lowcountry; The Rise of Beach Music; The Underground Railroad; SC Women of the American Revolution; SC Civil Rights; Black Folk Artists of SC; or Women in Reconstruction. For those who learn by doing, there are interactive workshops like DIY Crafts and Paint Along Marsh Landscapes. There are even workshops on Old Southern Cookery; Backyards for Birds, Bees and Butterflies; Art of the Charleston Renaissance; and Book Club Discussions.
Visitors to the Morris Center can enjoy the current exhibit, Soul of the South. This exhibit takes visitors on a musical journey highlighting the influences that Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and European colonizers in the Lowcountry had on various genres of music: gospel, jazz, blues, musical theater and rock and roll. It also showcases local musicians and groups whose notoriety reached beyond the Lowcountry. This exhibit is available through June.
Tamara said from July through January, the new exhibit will be The Supper Table. “It is interesting and intriguing,” she said. “The Supper Table has place settings for the influential women of South Carolina who have historical relevance and it ties together art and history.”
New this month is an exhibit called A War on Two Fronts. Tamara explained that it is an exhibit on loan from Coastal Carolina University and tells the story of African American veterans who fought abroad in World War II, then stateside for Civil Rights and includes first-hand accounts.
The Battle of Honey Hill is a permanent exhibit because this battle happened in Ridgeland, the home of the Morris Center.
Tamara said learning opportunities for children are also important so the Morris Center offers creative ways to enhance learning. A trip outside the classroom is often a highlight in a student’s year. They remember the experience, and more importantly, what they learned. A variety of lesson plans and programs for schools, tailored to South Carolina’s Curriculum Standards are available to engage and inspire students.
“Any teacher from any school can reach out to us to come,” Tamara said. “Our Director of Programs wrote lesson plans and study guides for teachers to use both before and after the visit.”
Be sure to check the center’s calendar for hands-on workshops like mosaic glass workshops, paint parties, indigo dye workshops and printmaking workshops. Tamara explained that participants create and take home their masterpieces, so there is a minimal charge for these classes to cover the cost of supplies.
For more information about programs, memberships, volunteer opportunities and school trips, visit morrisheritagecenter.org or call 843-284-9227.