Story of M&G at Heritage Green
Even though M&G has been open to the public and served hundreds of thousands of guests for more than six decades, its position on the campus of Bob Jones University has, at times, been perceived as inaccessible to the general public—the nature of many college campus environments. Knowing this, M&G was presented with an unusual opportunity: creating a satellite location in downtown Greenville at the Heritage Green campus just off Academy St.
In 1998, Alester G. Furman purchased the Coca-Cola bottling plant at 516 Buncombe Street. His intention was to transform the bottling facility into a history museum, while maintaining the original structure and facade. As the idea was slow to come to fruition, the building was purchased from Furman by local developer Phil Hughes. After several unsuccessful attempts to repurpose the building, Hughes nearly tore it down, but an urgent petition from members of the nearby Hampton-Pinckney neighborhood caused him to reconsider.
While talking with Dr. Bob Jones III (then president of BJU and chairman of M&G) before an opening performance of the 2001 Living Gallery, Hughes and Jones began to discuss the possibility of a satellite location for the Museum & Gallery’s collection of fine art. In 2002, with the help of Paul Wickensimer and Phil Hughes, the deed for the plant was transferred to a non-profit holding company for the building to be used as a museum and offered to the Museum & Gallery as its first tenant. Between, 2002 and 2008, the M&G proprietors developed and implemented plans to protect the beauty of the architecture and renovate the interior into a museum space. The renovation of the old Coke building was the culmination of several years of planning and development along with the generous support of the City of Greenville, Greenville County, multiple foundations and encouraging citizens. At opening, the deed for the building was transferred as a gift to the Museum & Gallery with the stipulation it would be used as a museum.
2008 Opening—Closing 2017
In April of 2008, the Museum & Gallery at Heritage Green opened to the public featuring an interactive exhibition called, The Making of a Masterpiece, revealing the rigorous teaching and creating process Old Masters were required to follow to become a “master.”
As an innovative, educational satellite facility of the Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University, M&G at Heritage Green over the next years gave visitors an opportunity to learn about and experience fine art and diverse cultures by rotating special exhibits of works selected from M&G’s world-renowned European painting collection along with loans from private and public collections. In addition, each exhibition featured interactive, educational displays for all ages that brought the art and times of the Old Masters to life, including a dedicated children’s learning center to interact with each exhibit’s themes in tactile, creative ways.
The various exhibitions exposed guests to incredible objects such as a Vermeer forgery from the National Gallery, an imperial Russian Easter egg by Fabergé in the Cleveland Museum collection, medical instruments and practices from the Victorian era of Charles Dickens’ day, and portraits such as Sarah Kemble Siddons, one of the first actresses to use portraiture as a promotional tool.
With the building needs of M&G at Bob Jones University, M&G’s board chose to close the Heritage Green satellite in February 2017, enabling the staff to focus on preserving the Collection and integrating the same creativity and technology to the exhibits and displays at the main museum site on campus.
Uniqueness of Heritage Green
M&G is grateful to have shared its Old Master collection in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, and enhanced the overall educational and cultural environment of the Heritage Green campus, which also includes the Greenville County Public Library, the Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Upcountry History Museum, Sigal Music Museum, and The Children’s Museum of the Upstate. Heritage Green is a unique place of culture, education, and art rarely repeated anywhere in the United States.
We’ll miss serving alongside our Heritage Green neighbors in downtown; however regardless of where M&G is physically located, we continue to demonstrate our love for our community and its guests by sharing the Collection and engaging programming for all ages.