Throughout the year, the Museum offers lectures and discussions about the Lowcountry’s history, culture, and environment. Topics vary and guest presenters come from around the region.

Select weekdays (typically Wednesdays)  from  October–May the Discovery Lecture Series is offered.
$7 per person (for the majority of programs)

The Coastal Discovery Museum also offers a History Forum of the Lowcountry series. Check the event calendar or call for other lectures, talks and guest speakers offered throughout the year. These programs are $10 per person for non members, $5 for basic members, and free for supporting and above membership levels. The 2017-18 topics are listed below.

Discovery Lectures – 2019- 20:

The Coastal Discovery Museum’s Discovery Lecture Series offers  presentations from late September through April. Please check back to find a full schedule soon. All presentations are at 2 PM unless noted. Please check the online calendar to make your reservations.

Register Here

Captain William Hilton and the Founding of Hilton Head Island

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 – Author, Dwayne Pickett

Behind the pristine beaches and world renown of Hilton Head Island lies a history that dates back to the early exploration of the nation. In 1663, William Hilton, a mariner born in England, was hired by a group in Barbados to find new lands for them to settle. Hilton led an exploration of the Port Royal Sound area, where he named Hilton Head Island as a navigational marker for future sailors. The island began as a sparsely populated area on the fringe of English settlement in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when it was called Trench’s Island on some maps. Author Dwayne W. Pickett details the life of Hilton, his exploration of the Carolina coast and the founding of an iconic island. Register here

Paradise – Memories of Hilton Head in the Early Days

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 – Authors Nelle and Ora Smith

The Smith family moved to Hilton Head in 1963 so that John could take a position with Charles Fraser and help develop and market the new Sea Pines Plantation.  What was Hilton Head like in the early days? Was it Paradise, Camelot, Utopia, or the Days of Wine and Roses? According to Nelle and Ora Smith, “It was all of those things. It was a quiet simpler time with mostly dirt roads, surrounded by incredible natural beauty. Being a part of the growing Island was the chance of a lifetime – witnessing the first Heritage Gold Tournament, feeling the joy as people began to discover the oceanfront treasure nestled in the tall pines. Our family was there to help plant the seeds that have grown Hilton Head into the beloved destination it is today.” Join the Coastal Discovery Museum to hear more about their experiences on Hilton Head Island as development was beginning. Nelle and Ora Smith will also have copies of “Paradise – Memories of Hilton Head Island in the Early Days” for sale at the presentation. Register Here

Natural History and Archaeology of Beer

Friday, October 4th – Rex Garniewicz, CEO Coastal Discovery Museum

Beer is the foundation of civilized life as we know it.   Beginning 10,000 years ago, brewing led to the development of agriculture, settled life, and a myriad of other inventions.  This presentation will take you from ancient Mesopotamia, China, and Egypt to the jungles of the Amazon to learn some of the science behind how beer is made and to see how it has impacted our lives in ways we likely never think about.  You will view this beverage in a new light by the end of the lecture, even if beer isn’t your thing. Register Here

Pluff Mud Pioneers, and How They Changed Their Worlds

Wednesday, October 9th – Author Rich Thomas

Join us to hear long-forgotten and little-known stories of Beaufort County events and the people who, in their time, dramatically changed the world around them and set the course for the future to follow. Mr. Thomas’ presentation will focus on nine notable events in Beaufort County’s past and how each of them constituted a significant first of their kind in American history.  The stories of these events and the people involved constitute the core of his book, Backwater Frontier: Beaufort County, SC at the Forefront of American HistoryRegister here

I Was Born to Be in a Library – Pat Conroy as Reader

Wednesday, October 16th – Author and Executive Director of Pat Conroy Literary Center

The author of The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Water Is Wide, Pat Conroy (1945–2016) is synonymous with the lowcountry. Executive Director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center Jonathan Haupt will discuss Conroy as reader—focusing on the importance of his mother Peggy Conroy in fostering Pat’s love of reading and of libraries in continuing that great love over the course of a lifetime. Through video clips, photographs, and published and unpublished writings by and about Conroy, this presentation welcomes attendees into the book-filled world of one of America’s most beloved writers. The program will also include an overview of the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center and the annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival, October 29-November 3. Register Here

Daufuskie Daze: Living, learning, and teaching on a South Carolina Sea Island

Wednesday, October 23rd – Jim Alberto – Retired teacher and Hilton Head Island resident

Starting in 1974, Jim Alberto and his wife, Carol, taught school at the Mary Fields Elementary School for nine years. Little did they know that Jim’s meeting with Pat Conroy in 1973 would play such an important role in their careers. Jim and Carol experienced Daufuskie Island life first-hand when they moved out to this South Carolina barrier island to teach the local children. From navigating weekly boat rides to the mainland for groceries to learning to avoid dangerously close encounters with local wildlife, such as snakes and alligators, these teachers had no idea how much they themselves would learn from the island and the people who call it home.  Register Here

Your Lowcountry Home

Monday, November 4th – Al Segars – Retired Veterinarian, SCDNR

Join Dr. Al Segars (SCDNR retired) for a virtual trip through the Lowcountry highlighting the special places and wildlife who share our special home. Emphasis will be on properties that display the natural wonders of the Lowcountry that are public accessible. Dr Al Segars is a retired veterinarian with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources with a long career studying the endangered and threatened species in our coast. Register Here.

A Community-based Oyster Shell Recycling and Bed Restoration Project

Wednesday, November 6th – Jean Fruh, Director of The Outside Foundation

Jean Fruh, Executive Director of The Outside Foundation will discuss how a small, local, grassroots non-profit (TOF) received funding from an environmental giant, Patagonia Inc., to establish a community-based oyster shell recycling and bed restoration project here on Hilton Head Island. Come learn how you can get involved in this important conservation project! Register Here

If These Walls Could Talk

Wednesday, November 13th – Kim Cavanaugh, Ph.D – Professor of Anthropology, University of SC – Beaufort & Audrey Dawson, Ph. D.

The Barnwell Archaeological Research Project is a multidisciplinary endeavor at the Barnwell tabby ruins located on the north end of Hilton Head Island. Archaeology, archival research, and geological dating analysis are being employed to answer questions from the local community concerning when the tabby structure was created, its uses through time, and the role of African and African-American enslaved laborers at this structure. This presentation will highlight information gleaned from the Phase I archaeological excavations coupled with preliminary archival research, both of which suggest the tabby ruins are older than originally thought, possibly dating to the island’s colonial period occupations.

Kimberly Cavanagh is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. A Fulbright Scholar, she holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Visual Anthropology (2007) from the University of South Carolina. Her research centers on globalization, tourism development, and the Middle East.

Register Here

Prehistoric South Carolina

Monday, November 18th – Bruce Lampright, Naturalist at Bray’s Island

From tiny Trilobites to Giant Ground Sloths, the fossil history of the Palmetto State is a fascinating story.  Where else can you find a 65 million year-old oyster and minutes later stumble upon the massive 6 inch tooth of a Megatooth Shark?  Visions of Volkswagon-sized Armadillos, huge Mastodons, and pouncing Saber-toothed Cats boggle the mind.  And yes, South Carolina even had some dinosaurs!  Join professional naturalist and amateur paleontologist Bruce Lampright for a Lowcountry step back in time as he tells of the rich pre-history of our state.Register Here

Bats of the World and the Lowcountry

Wednesday, November 20th – Lydia Moore

Bats are often portrayed negatively, fostering fear and misunderstanding.  Lydia Moore, research and education coordinator for the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, will discuss the beneficial roles of bats in the Lowcountry.  Join us and learn why bats are essential components of ecosystems, why it is crucial that we study them, and about ongoing research at the Bluff.

Lydia Moore became enthralled with conservation and ecology as a child growing up next to a saltwater marsh in Charleston.  She pursued this passion at Oberlin College where she double majored in biology and environmental studies.  After spending several years in New Mexico, she returned to school and earned her master’s degree at Auburn University studying bats in the coastal plain of South Carolina.  Lydia is a community ecologist and has conducted research in Ohio, New Mexico, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.Register Here

Impact of Pesticides on Insects

Monday, November 25th – Debbi Albanese

Debbi Albanese is a SC Master Naturalist and recent graduate of Georgia Southern University with an M.S. in Biology. The research for her thesis showed unexpected negative effects of herbicides on butterflies and earthworms. In this lecture, she will review some commonly used pesticides, how pesticides are approved by the EPA for use by homeowners and introduce the idea of integrated pest management.

Register Here

The Many Benefits of Sharks

Monday, December 2nd – Kim Ritchie

People tend to think of sharks as dangerous, indiscriminate predators. Dr. Ritchie aims to make you think differently about sharks and their benefits to humans, our ecosystems and our planet. She will also discuss some of our local sharks and their antibiotic-producing microbial partners.

Kim Ritchie received a PhD at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill before postdoctoral studies at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.  Dr. Ritchie was Senior Scientist and Manager of the Coral Reef Ecology and Microbiology Program at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, for 14 years before moving to South Carolina. She is now Professor at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, studying coral reefs and sharks and their beneficial microbes. Dr. Ritchie also explores the use of shark beneficial bacteria as a novel source of antibiotics for humans.Register Here

Lowcountry Ospreys

Wednesday, December 4th – Kristen Mattson, LowCountry Institute

The Status of Osprey in the Lowcountry. During this lecture, learn why ospreys are important sentinels of environmental health and better understand their life history including nesting, migration, and feeding. Summary data from 10 years of local osprey breeding observations will be presented as well.

Kristen Marshall Mattson is an environmental educator for the LowCountry Institute and Spring Island Trust. She is a co-instructor of the Master Naturalist program and host of “Night Skies Over Beaufort County”. She has a background teaching biology in higher education and holds a master’s degree in ecology from the University of Florida.Register Here

Pat Conroy: Our Lifelong Friendship

Monday, December 9th – Bernie Schein

Pat Conroy, the bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini among many other books, was beloved by millions of readers. Bernie Schein was his best friend from the time they met in a high-school pickup basketball game in Beaufort, South Carolina, until Conroy’s death in 2016. Both were popular athletes but also outsiders as a Jew and a Catholic military brat in the small-town Bible-Belt South, and they bonded.

Wise ass and smart aleck, loudmouths both, they shared an ebullient sense of humor and romanticism, were mesmerized by the highbrow and reveled in the low and would sacrifice entire evenings and afternoons to endless conversation. As young teachers in the Beaufort area and later in Atlanta, they were activists in the civil rights struggle and against institutional racism and bigotry. Bernie knew intimately the private family story of the Conroys and his friend’s difficult relationship with his Marine Corps colonel father that Pat would draw on repeatedly in his fiction.

A love letter and homage, and a way to share the Pat he knew, this book collects Bernie’s cherished memories about the gregarious, welcoming, larger-than-life man who remained his best friend, even during the years they didn’t speak. It offers a trove of insights and anecdotes that will be treasured by Pat Conroy’s many devoted fans.Register Here

Overwintering Hummingbirds in the Lowcountry

Wednesday, December 11th – Doreen Cubie

Doreen Cubie will talk about her research with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, focusing on her banding study of wintering hummingbirds near Charleston, South Carolina. She will also discuss her research with Rubythroats from Manitoba to British Columbia, where she learned more about the northern and western limits of the breeding range of Rubythroats and investigated whether South Carolina’s wintering Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate to Canada for the summer.

Doreen Cubie is a master bird bander, one of only about 400 hummingbird banders in the US and Canada. She began studying wintering hummingbirds in the southeastern US in 2005. Her hummingbird research has been published in three peer-reviewed journals: Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Western Birds, and Journal of Field Ornithology. Doreen’s professional career was in publications, including a position as an editor with the National Wildlife Federation. During the last 20 years, she has worked as a freelance magazine writer, and her articles have been published in a number of national magazines, including National Wildlife, Audubon, Wildlife Conservation, Wilderness, and Natural History. Register Here

Migratory Ducks

Monday, December 16th – Russ Webb

Check back soon for program description.

Register Here

Whale Biology

Wednesday, December 18th – Michael Williamson

Check back soon for program description.

Register Here