Heritage Green Gets a Makeover

Heritage Green, the urban arts and cultural campus in downtown Greenville, is in the midst of a makeover. New improved pedestrian access, signage, gathering spots and landscaping are all part of the upgrade plan that began in Oct. 2013 and is expected to be completed by the first week of Feb.

If you haven't been to Heritage Green for a while, now is the time to go. In addition to the outside renovations, several of the museums also have new exhibits. On Jan. 18, The Children's Museum of the Upstate debuted its new traveling exhibit, The Robot Zoo. Now through June 1, kids can explore the biomechanics of complex animal robots to discover how real animals work.

The 2,500-square-foot exhibit reveals the magic of nature as a master engineer. Three robot animals and seven hands-on activities illustrate fascinating real-life characteristics, such as how a chameleon changes colors and a fly walks on the ceiling.

The larger-than-life-size animated robots include a chameleon, a platypus and a house fly with a 3-foot wingspread. Machinery in the robot animals simulates the body parts of their real-life counterparts. In the robot animals, muscles become pistons, intestines become filtering pipes and brains become computers.

Sensory activities include "Swat the Fly," a test of visitor's reaction time (one-twelfth as fast as a house fly's), and "Sticky Feet," where visitors wearing special hand and knee pads can try to stick like flies to a sloped surface. Triggering the "Tongue Gun" demonstrates how a real chameleon shoots out its long, sticky-tipped tongue to reel in a meal.

"By playing with the elements of the exhibit, children will be able to engage with working robotic parts and further their basic knowledge of biology," says Elizabeth McSherry, Program Director at The Children's Museum of the Upstate. "Additionally, we are thrilled to have an exhibit that that can be approached from so many different angles."

Over at the Upcountry History Museum, the new Protests, Prayers, and Progress: Greenville's Civil Rights Movement exhibit also opened Jan. 18. The exhibit runs through June 15 and follows the struggles and victories of local civil rights activists of the 1960s. Visitors can follow the journey of the brave activists whose protests and prayers helped to lead Greenville into a new era of progress.

The Bob Jones Museum and Gallery at Heritage Green is a satellite facility of the main Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery located at the university's campus. A select portion of the more than 400 Old Master paintings and hundreds of pieces of furniture and decorative arts regularly on display at M&G at Bob Jones University are exhibited at the Museum & Gallery at Heritage Green.

Currently the exhibit features Charles Dickens, as a continuing narrative, taking a look at the Victorian era. Several vignettes represent London's notable settings and visitors can get a glimpse into Queen Victoria's England through day-to-day environments and Dickens' writings as a journalist. You can see a publishing office, a drawing room, the Mannette's dining room and a seamstress room.

It's not all just Charles Dickens though; other Victorian personalities are also represented including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin, Caroline Norton and Florence Nightingale.

Also on display at the Heritage Green location are hundreds of objects from the collection of Dawn Corley, The Charleston Silver Lady best known for her extensive silver collection.

One of the country's premier American Art museums, the Greenville County Museum of Art, draws visitors from around the world to see installations of work by two of the nation's greatest contemporary artists, Andrew Wyeth and Jasper Johns.

A solo exhibition featuring contemporary mass media, artist Karen Ann Myers, opened Jan. 15. Reflecting the pervasive culture of sex and beauty, Myers employs the intimate setting of the bedroom to explore the psychological complexity of young women.

In her paintings, Myers portrays women she knows personally, juxtaposing them against geometrically patterned textiles in her sparingly furnished but optically energized bedroom. Often, the women are posed to mimic the intricate designs of the linens, wallpaper, or rugs found in the scene. Interiors is on viewthrough Mar. 23. 

To commemorate the GCMA's 40th anniversary at Heritage Green this year, a new exhibit titled 40 Years on Heritage Green: Building Greenville's Collection will open on Apr. 16.

Every year at the Greenville Little Theatre, six shows are staged by the greats of theater, from Shakespeare to Wilde to Cole Porter. Coming up from Feb. 21 through Mar. 8 is Agatha Christie's Spider's Web.

The plot features Clarissa, the second wife of Henry Hailsham-Brown, who is adept at spinning tall tales for their bored diplomatic circle. When a murder takes place in her drawing room she finds live drama much harder to cope with, especially when the victim turns out to be the man who broke up Henry's first marriage. Closely woven with thrills and comedy, it's Agatha Christie at her best as visitors are presented with lots of suspects in this classic whodunit.

Also located at Heritage Green is the Greenville County Library System's Hughes Main Library. The library is one of eleven locations within the Greenville County Library System.

In addition to the system-wide features of free meeting spaces, free internet computers, free Wi-Fi, books, DVDs, music CDs, free online resources and special programs for all ages. The Main Library also offers an expanded reference collection, research assistance, a Play and Literacy Center for preschoolers, a cafe, a used book shop and the largest local history and genealogy collection among public libraries in South Carolina.

Photo Credit:

From Interiors: Karen Ann Myers Karen Ann Myers (born 1984)
Striped Diamonds II 2013 oil on canvas

From the permanent collection, featured in The Content of Our Character: From States Rights to Civil Rights (opening Feb 12)
John Ross Key (1837--1920) Battle of the Ironclads Virginia and Monitor, Hampton Roads, VA 1862 circa 1862 oil on canvas

From the permanent collection, included in the exhibition Legacy of Impressionism: Languages of Light (opening March 12) Helen Turner (1858--1958) Girl with Lantern 1904 oil on canvas

Sherry Jackson is a freelance writer, editor and entrepreneur. Her articles have been featured in InfoWorld Magazine,Entrepreneur.com, USA Today, Blue Ridge Country, Jetsetter, Bootsnall, Gadling, Yahoo, See the South, Beckett Media, The Simpsonville Sentinel and many other print and online publications. For clips and examples of her work, please visit her website at www.dragonflyventures.com.