South Carolina State University offers its own extraordinary combination of the arts and science in a single facility with its I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium.
The facility was established on the university campus in 1980 and is named for Israel Pinkney Stanback, who served as the first African-American trustee board chairman of what was then South Carolina State College.
Dr. Frank C. Martin, museum and planetarium director, considers the facility a “gem.”
“Among the most exceptional works in the museum would be items from its collections from various parts of continental Africa, but particularly West Africa, many of which items represent the cultural artifacts of the very populations from which the ancestors of the modern African-American populace in South Carolina were derived,” Martin said.
The museum has often collaborated with the university’s Miller F. Whittaker Library to devise programming that is not only intended to enhance traditional forms of literacy, but cultural and visual literacy as well, the director said.
The museum closed its “EPHIPHANIES: Art, Image and Insight” on Jan. 25, which featured local artists such as Dr. Leo Twiggs and Cecil Williams, but Martin said, “We would be amenable to opening it up by appointment if anyone wished to visit on the weekend."
The next exhibition will open to the public after Feb. 15 and will be titled "Harlem On Whose Mind?"
“It is based on the presentation of the historic photographic panels first shown 50 years ago at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as part of the controversial ‘Harlem On My Mind’ exhibition of 1969 as curated then by Allon Schoener,” Martin said, noting that Twiggs, the very first director of the museum and planetarium, acquired the photographic panels for the museum.
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The “Harlem On Whose Mind?” exhibition will be presented in two phases, with a presentation scheduled for the spring and fall.
While a programmer is currently being sought for the planetarium, Martin said S.C. State physics professor Dr. Donald K. Walter does sometimes provide planetarium shows for special groups by request.
The planetarium is currently only open only by appointment and at the discretion of the presenters within the university’s astrophysics program, but Martin hopes that will change soon.
“We are currently working on acquiring a full dome projection system, which we hope will serve to facilitate easier access to providing planetarium presentations with Dr. Walter serving in a supervisory capacity while we fundraise,” Martin said.
Once the projection system is in place, the planetarium will be open again as “a designated NASA site helping to promote interest in the stars, celestial phenomena and events, space science and the composition of our universe,” he said, noting that the 40-foot planetarium dome with the analog Minolta II projection system is “unique in our area and in our portion of the state.”
Martin said the museum and planetarium offer the community a holistic approach to learning and intellectual engagement.
“We are grateful for the support and interest of the Orangeburg public and others within our region,” he said.
For more information on the museum and planetarium, call 803-536-7174.