A Living History of American Sculpture Surrounded by Nature
Once the haunt of Archer & Anna Hyatt Huntington, this botanical garden south of Myrtle Beach is now the home to over 1,200 artworks. It is a beautiful, relaxing place.
“One of the seven wonders of the Carolinas.” That’s how the Charlotte Observer described Brookgreen Gardens. Located in Georgetown County on Highway 17, the garden is about 12 miles south of Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Brookgreen was founded by Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955) and his wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973) in 1931. The Huntington’s moved to South Carolina from Connecticut and lived in nearby Atalaya Castle during the winter months from 1933 until 1947. After Archer’s death in 1955, Anna moved to Brookgreen.
When Brookgreen was opened in 1932 it was America’s first public sculpture garden. Today the 50-acre garden is home to over 1,200 works of art.
Brookgreen is a collection of attractions, including the Huntington Sculpture Garden, the Wall Lowcountry Center, and its accompanying Lowcountry Trail, and the Lowcountry Zoo. It is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Huntington Sculpture Garden
Brookgreen’s sculpture garden is named for the founders. It is designed to adapt the concept of a Persian pleasure garden to South Carolina’s coastal region. The fountains, the grassy courtyards, and the abundant artwork give visitors a localized glimpse of Asian pleasure gardens like the Taj Mahal (the most famous of the Persian pleasure gardens).
Walking tours of the sculpture garden begin at the Diana Pool (pictured below). A walk through the Live Oak Allée brings visitors to the main body of the garden – which is designed to resemble a butterfly.
At the center of the sculpture garden is the Brown Sculpture Court. It contains a permanent exhibition of smaller works. The pieces are presented around a reflecting pool. Included in the court: Three Bears and Reaching (both pictured below).
The sculpture gardens include a number of fountains. There are works done in marble, bronze, aluminum, other mediums. Among them is a statue of at the center Dionysus covered in gold leaf.
Outside the pleasure garden is the Arboretum. This is a larger, more open area of lawns and ponds larger sculptures. Here you can find Don Quixote, the Gazelle Fountain, and the Saint James Triad among other works.
Children at the Sculpture Garden
The pleasure garden itself has a special section set aside for children: The Peace Garden Room for Children. The works here focus on youth and are lighter in their theme. The center of this area Frog Baby – the image of a child holding two frogs, standing in the middle of a fountain.
While all of the pieces are tastefully presented, parents should be prepared for the fact that many of the works in the sculpture garden depict full nudity – in all its anatomical glory. Giggles and embarrassment can occur. That said, the larger facility has a number of education features.
The Wall Lowcountry Center
This is the starting point for a number of Brookgreen activities that highlight the geography, ecology, and history of coastal South Carolina. The Lowcountry trail that starts at the center has a ricefield overlook and provides access to come archaeological sites of local interest. There is a Creek Cruise that explores tributaries of the Waccamaw River and allows for the viewing of local wildlife (including alligators). There are also Trekker Excursions to explore the ruins of Antebellum plantations that are part of the larger Huntington property.
The Lowcountry Zoo
The zoo at Brookgreen seeks to present local wildlife in a natural setting. Exhibits include the closed in Cypress Swamp Aviary, an otter habitat, alligators, foxes, birds of prey, and wild turkeys.
Hours of Operation and Other Facilities
Brookgreen is open daily from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm. During the summer the park is open until 9:00 pm Wednesday thru Friday and a variety of events take place on those evenings. Admission to the park is $12 for adults (12 and up), $10 for Seniors (over 65), and $5 for children (6-12). An admission ticket provides access to the park for a week, so going earlier during a stay in the area provides continued access.
Brookgreen has a cafe and a gift shop. A shuttle is available for transportation between the sculpture garden, the Lowcountry Center, and the zoo. The grounds are largely wheelchair accessible.
1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576