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Myrtle Beach Museums show today’s art, yesterday’s fascinating history

Somehow, our area has gotten a collection of fun and fascinating museums, from classic pinball games to hot American-made cars to local human and natural history to fine art.

Pinball Museum in Myrtle Beach
1. The Pinball Museum

This museum has more than 20 of the games from the 1970s to today, preserved and playable, are likely to be time machines that will transport visitors to happy days when the games were new and wildly popular. It’s a museum where you can pay $12 an hour to play with the exhibits, not just view them behind velvet ropes. Tickets must be bought in advance when making reservations.

2. Horry County Museum

Horry County Museum The Horry (Pronounced O-ree) County Museum, housed in a 1905 former school, has exhibits that will tell you all about the pre-history, history, and natural history of the largest county in South Carolina. The museum also includes the L. W. Paul Living History Farm, a recreation of life on a one-horse family farm after the Civil War and the collapse of the plantation system. The museum’s building is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes a freshwater aquarium featured on Animal Planet’s popular reality show “Tanked.”

3. The Myrtle Beach Art Museum

The Franklin G. Burroughs Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is free and has 11 galleries of rotating shows of a variety of artists working in a wide range of media, including paint, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage and collage. Its home was built in 1924 and moved eight miles to its present location in 1975.

4. Wheels of Yesteryear

Fans of American-made vehicles can find more than 150 cars and trucks at this privately owned museum. The vehicles are owned by enthusiast Paul Cummings and his wife, Carol, who collected them for 55 years.

5. Historic Myrtle Beach Colored School & Education Center

The building that housed the first school for black children in the area was rebuilt near its original location after the 1932 four-room, wood-framed school building was abandoned and allowed to fall into disrepair. It had been replaced in 1953 by the Carver Training School. One room is a museum about the school that is staffed by its now-elderly former students.

Kaminsky House Museum in Georgetown
6. The Kaminsky House Museum

The beautifully preserved example of Lowcountry architecture is in Georgetown, just south of Myrtle Beach, the third-oldest city in South Carolina after Charleston and Beaufort. The house, available to tour, was built by and the residence of wealthy merchants until it and all its furnishings were donated in a will to the City of Georgetown in 1972 by a woman named Julia Kaminski, whose family had owned it since 1931. The Georgian style house was designed in the Lowcountry “single house” style of the mid-18th century.

7. The Rice Museum

Also in Georgetown, the Rice Museum tells visitors about the area’s development into what, for about 100 years, from the 1750s until the 1850s, was the center of rice production in what became the United States. The Rice Museum also has a connection to the Kaminski family. One of its buildings is the Kaminski Hardware Building, which Heiman Kaminsky bought in 1868, remodeled and expanded. In its third floor is the Maritime Museum Gallery, where the preserved skeleton of the Browns Ferry Vessel is displayed. The 50-foot boat was built in the early 1700s and sunk in approximately 1730 and is the oldest vessel of colonial manufacture on exhibit in America. The Rice Museum’s main structure, the Old Market Building, was built in 1842 to replace a wooden structure that had been severely damaged in an 1841 fire that destroyed much of Georgetown’s Front Street. The building’s distinctive town clock was added in 1857.

8. Museums for Kids

The Myrtle Beach EdVenture Children’s Museum has lots of educational but interactive and fun exhibits; WonderWorks has 41,000 square feet of what it calls “edu-tainment;” Ripley's Aquarium is an 85,000-square-foot exhibition with moving walkways carrying visitors through exhibits with 1.4 million gallons of water and thousands of ocean creatures, from sharks to penguins.