African American Heritage

slave mart museum

Explore Charleston’s rich African American heritage through art, historic sites and museum collections.  Discover the distinctive Gullah culture of the Lowcountry, as well as the art and craftsmanship of Charleston’s African American community.  Learn about the history of urban and plantation slavery and what followed after Emancipation.  


Adult ticket - $33.00
Child ticket (ages 6-12) - $19.00
From The Charleston Museum online shop
Allow one week for delivery

Pass includes admission to all of the following:


Aiken-Rhett House – 48 Elizabeth Street

The Aiken-Rhett House is the most intact urban townhouse complex in Charleston, with some of the best-preserved slave quarters in the Southeast. It provides a vivid record of slave life in an urban antebellum household.  William Aiken, Jr., was a governor of South Carolina, a member of the U. S. House of Representatives, and one of the state’s largest slaveholders. On the eve of the Civil War, he owned more than 700 slaves at his Jehossee rice plantation, located on the South Edisto River. A small group of approximately 12 skilled slaves maintained his mansion house, now known as the Aiken-Rhett House.

The Charleston Museum – 360 Meeting Street

Learn about the plantation system, particularly rice and cotton producers, and discover artifacts such as slave badges and slave-made pottery unique to the Lowcountry. Learn about Dave, a literate slave who produced beautiful, large-scale pottery often inscribed with brief poems, and other important South Carolina potters.  Also explore the extraordinary “voodoo jugs,” “grotesques” and other effigy vessels on which slaves applied facial features to their works.

Gibbes Museum of Art – 135 Meeting Street

Objects by African-American artists entered the collection of the Gibbes Museum of Art as early as 1943.  Of particular note is a portrait of Denmark Vesey who is credited with planning a slave insurrection in Charleston in 1822.  For his leadership in resisting the enslavement of his brethren, many have portrayed Vesey as a hero, including artist Charles White.  White’s 1943 portrait owned by the Gibbes was created as a study for a large-scale mural at the historically black Hampton University, entitled The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America.  Other notable artists who reflect upon the lives of African Americans in the Lowcountry include Jonathan Green, Juan Logan, and Radcliffe Bailey.

Old Slave Mart Museum – 6 Chalmers Street

The Old Slave Mart Museum tells the story of Charleston’s role as an urban slave-trading center during the domestic slave trade, a hugely profitable economy organized by local and regional slave traders within the United States who forcibly relocated over 1 million American-born slaves from the upper South to the lower South in the decades before the Civil War.  The Old Slave Mart is the only structure remaining of a complex of buildings known as Ryan's Mart where hundreds of slave auctions were held from 1856-1863.  The museum’s main exhibit focuses on the daily process of slave sales at Ryan’s Mart from the perspectives of a number of its historically documented buyers, traders, and enslaved African Americans and speaks to their stories, contributions and legacies.