Six months after opening, the Beaufort History Museum is preparing its first special exhibit.
The "Goin' Down the River" display, which focuses on the Lowcountry tradition of fish camps, was inspired by a new book of the same title by local author and photographer Janet Garrity. The display opens with a reception Dec. 13 at the museum, housed on the first floor of City Hall.
It's the first of what museum president Katherine Lang hopes will be many special, temporary exhibits that highlight Beaufort's past and traditions.
"I feel very good about the progress we've made," she said. "We've gotten to the point where we can do this now, and we have plans in the works for more exhibits coming up."
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Next fall, the museum is planning an exhibit on the first South Carolina regiment of the Union army, which was comprised of slaves abandoned as their owners fled advancing northern troops.
Although no other exhibits are confirmed, topics being discussed include the history of railroads, Sheriff James Edwin McTeer, and local authors and books, Lang said.
The effort to start the museum began in early 2011. Volunteers worked with preservationists and archaeologists to identify and care for the items in the collection.
The standing collection includes photographs, clothing, models of boats, furniture and flags among other things. Since opening, models of a 1776 chateau and a rice trunk, which is a floodgate used to water to the fields, have been added, Lang said.
Museum officials also are planning to create a docent training program and a Friends of the Beaufort History Museum group in 2013.
Lang said interest in the museum has been steady, and officials are cultivating a relationship with social studies teachers in Beaufort in hopes of making it a field trip destination.
The fish camp exhibit will highlight photographs from Garrity's book, a model of a fish camp built by Dennis Cannady of Beaufort and artifacts from fish camps in the area.
"Fish camps are quintessentially of the Lowcountry," Lang said. "I'm sure there are fish camps everywhere, but there's something special about the ones here."
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonBeaufort