A GLIMPSE OF GULLAH: Coastal Heritage Society to host annual Art and Oysters fundraiser at Pin Point Heritage Museum

The Coastal Heritage Society is a local nonprofit organization that operates six historic museums throughout coastal Georgia, each providing engaging educational experiences to the public. Located in the idyllic Moon River District, one of their sites is Pin Point Heritage Museum, which shares about the history and culture of the Gullah/Geechee community that has lived in the region for generations.

Pin Point is one of the last Gullah/Geechee waterfront communities that is still inhabited by descendants of the freedmen who founded it, and the museum tells their story through captivating exhibits within the authentic oyster factory. An exciting opportunity to experience the museum and meet with community residents is fast approaching, as Pin Point Heritage Museum will soon host their annual Art and Oysters fundraiser.

Now in its 12th year, Art and Oysters presents an invitation to spend an enchanting evening on the picturesque banks of Moon River complete with fresh and flavorful seafood catered by a resident of the community and original works donated by talented local artists, which will be available for purchase via silent auction. Several of the participating artists are returning — like Bellamy Murphy, Sharon McIntosh, Patricia Sabree and Jen Nolan, among others — and there are also new artists like Marc Hanson, Ann Lutz, Jim Cone, Amelia Jamerson and more whose works will be auctioned at Art and Oysters for the first time.

“Proceeds from that silent auction go into supporting the educational programming and outreach that we do at Pin Point Heritage Museum, so it continues to tell the story of the Gullah/Geechee community and the people there. It’s all right here in our backyard, this very well-kept secret that we want to make sure that everyone knows about,” said Nora Lee, CHS executive director.

click to enlarge A GLIMPSE OF GULLAH: Coastal Heritage Society to host annual Art and Oysters fundraiser at Pin Point Heritage Museum (3)
Courtesy of Coastal Heritage Society

In addition to the artists, several members from the Pin Point community, some of whom are museum staff, will also be in attendance to share stories about their traditions and history. Art and Oysters will shine a light on Savannah’s Gullah/Geechee community, which was little known prior to the efforts of CHS and the museum.

“Most people, when you talk about Gullah/Geechee, they immediately think about South Carolina’s coast. But Georgia’s coast and North Florida’s coast also have a number of Gullah/Geechee communities. But very sadly many of these communities along the coastal area have been disappearing over the decades, and a lot of that’s been from development, unfortunately, and younger generations [opting] not to stay within the community . . . to go to a bigger city and forge a different life. So those communities have really been changing,” said Lee.

The Pin Point community lies outside of Savannah’s city limits, and for many years there wasn’t even a paved road there until The Landings residential community and the Diamond Causeway developed nearby.

“They really were an isolated community for a number of years, and so the culture is not vastly different now than it was for those older generations. It is such a jewel for Savannah. I myself, having grown up here in Savannah, didn’t even know it existed until I came to work with [CHS],” said Lee. “It’s been too well kept a secret and it’s important that the community knows we have this gem, and that we support this community of such wonderful people who’ve worked so hard to maintain their lifestyle. . . It’s wonderful to be able to share their story. And I don’t tell their story. We have community members who work within the museum who are telling their own story. What an incredible, authentic experience to hear the Gullah language, to hear about the culture of the community from somebody whose life and language it is.”

The rare opportunity to learn about and connect with members from the Pin Point community is one of several reasons Lee encourages the public to come out and attend Art and Oysters this year.

click to enlarge A GLIMPSE OF GULLAH: Coastal Heritage Society to host annual Art and Oysters fundraiser at Pin Point Heritage Museum (2)
Courtesy of Coastal Heritage Society

“It’s a beautiful evening on the marsh, on the dock, enjoying seafood with an incredible sunset view over the Moon River. That alone is a really breathtaking opportunity to enjoy. The museum is open and we have so many people who tell the story on a regular basis at our museum who will be there sharing their story. Guests can explore the museum that evening. All the local artists are supporting our mission at Pin Point Heritage Museum, they are going to be there. Guests can bid on the silent auction and also talk with a number of the artists who have contributed to the auction. . . Many of them are creating their art at Pin Point. It’s really just a nice evening with music and all that delicious local seafood. Art and Oysters is vital to the museum’s future and this enticing fundraiser event is one that the community will not want to miss,” she said.

Beyond the event, Lee hopes that locals and tourists alike will come out and visit the museum and learn about the vibrant culture of the Gullah/Geechee community at Pin Point.

“The museum is only open three days a week [Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.]. It is a small operation, but it is such a special story that doesn’t get the foot traffic that the downtown area gets,” Lee said. “Pin Point is a destination. It’s telling the story of our African-American community in Savannah. And I think it is worth a visit for all locals to go and explore Pin Point, to learn more about the history there, and to bring their children out there as well and bring any guests who come to visit them. It’s more than just a tourism destination. It’s for our local community, too.”

Art and Oysters will take place at Pin Point Heritage Museum, located at 9924 Pin Point Ave., on Thursday, March 21 from 6–9 p.m. Registration is required and sponsorships are available. Anyone wishing to support the museum can do so by attending Art and Oysters, becoming a member of Coastal Heritage Society, or making a donation online at chsgeorgia.org/.

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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