Officials will reopened an art museum and planetarium on the South Carolina State University campus which has been closed the past year due to budget issues at the school.
The I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium will officially reopen in a 5 pm ceremony at the historically black college in Orangeburg. The building was one of nine on campus connected to an antiquated 60-year-old boiler which the school shut down to save money during a year it was fighting for its very future.
A donation from the Class of 1962 helped buy new equipment to heat and cool the building, moving its reopening ahead of schedule, according to college president James Clark.
“It’s infrastructure for the museum and complex overall — the stuff behind the wall — that was the big investment,” Clark told South Carolina Radio Network.
The museum features exhibits on African-American art, civil rights and other artifacts. Its centerpiece is a planetarium, which Clark said will soon have a new digital presentation after another donation by SC State alumni.
State legislators pressured SC State to make substantial cuts in 2015, after declining enrollment, less federal aid and financial mismanagement left it struggling to pay vendors and on probation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Legislators fired the school’s board of trustees and appointed new members that year. The board eventually hired Clark in June 2016.
SC State officials admit the museum’s future is still not secure. “Sufficient funding to sustain and develop compelling museum activities remains an on-going challenge,” a release announcing the reopening stated. “However, the university is confident that by carefully cultivating, and re-developing audiences through membership and program initiatives, there will be greater engagement and interaction with the local Orangeburg community, constituencies across the state of South Carolina, as well as national and international audiences.”
A new special exhibit will include artwork by local artist Leo Twigg inspired by the 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church attacks which killed 9 black churchgoers.