COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – One of the vetoes that Gov. Nikki Haley made in the state budget is a proviso to have the state study whether to move the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum from Columbia to Charleston. State lawmakers will be back at the Statehouse Wednesday to vote on whether to override her vetoes.
She says when she worked with lawmakers last year to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds, part of the agreement was to move it to the Confederate Relic Room for eventual display. “That’s the only conversations I ever had. That’s the promise I made to them, that we would do this and we would do it right,” she told reporters last week, at a news conference about her budget vetoes. “Never in any of those conversations with any of those people did they talk about moving it to Charleston, and so I think moving it to Charleston is because a couple of legislators, or former legislators, want it moved to Charleston.”
She says the state is also already studying its use of all state buildings and properties, so there’s no need for a separate analysis of the museum.
Rep. Chip Limehouse reportedly is one of the lawmakers who wants to move it, thinking that it would make more sense for the museum to be in Charleston because of its other museums and it would get more traffic because of all the tourists who visit Charleston. The museum is currently in the same building as the State Museum in Columbia.
“We did not have any advance knowledge of that proposal coming out of the House; have no idea what prompted it,” says Allen Roberson, director of the museum.
He says it’s important to know that the museum has been in Columbia for 120 years. It will be celebrating its 120th birthday on June 24th and 25th, with free admission. And it’s important to know that the museum covers all of the state’s military history, from the Revolutionary War to the present day.
He has no idea how much it might cost to move the museum to Charleston. “Personally, I just can’t see how it wouldn’t be a lot more to relocate the museum to a new location rather than try to expand into empty space in this building,” he says. But he says that, as a state agency, they’ll do whatever lawmakers and the governor decide.
He does worry, though, that moving anytime soon could jeopardize the museum’s accreditation. It’s coming up for renewal next year, and he says a move could make it hard to get re-accredited.