MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — Brookgreen Gardens has announced its first campaign in more than 25 years. 

Campaign for the Next Generation will see an expansion of its art, nature and history programming as well as new facilities such as the red wolf exhibit.

The funding is being allocated to four key areas: a new contemporary conservatory, American art centers, expanded Lowcountry history exhibits and a new exhibit in the Lowcountry zoo. 

The new contemporary conservatory is at the heart of the campaign. It will be built right beside the current welcome center. 

“It will change the face of the gardens,” said Lauren Joseph, director of marketing for Brookgreen Gardens. “It will link us back to the rest to where the Fountain of the Muses is and the other parts of the gardens and be a great event space. It will also allow us to showcase some tropical biomes and other things that we can’t currently [because we] don’t have the space to do.” 

Like the name says, the campaign is for the next generation. 

“It’s a very important place to preserve and to keep going for the education of the future generations,” Joseph said. 

Joseph said Brookgreen Gardens has raised more than $17 million of the $20 million they need to complete the project. They are relying on their generous donors to get them all the way there. 

“We’ve gotten so much from so many of our generous, wonderful, major donors,” Joseph said. “We do have about $3 million left to raise and of course, if we raise over that, that’s great as well, because that will go further into funding.”

She said people do not have to be a major donor to make a difference. 

“Those little donations make a big difference,” Joseph said. “A donation of just $25 to the campaign is great.”

Joseph said Brookgreen Gardens is more than just a beautiful place for Grand Strand residents and tourists to visit. It is an important part of the state. 

“Brookgreen is a cultural center for not just Horry and Georgetown counties, but for the state of South Carolina,” Joseph said. “A lot of people don’t realize the significance of the sculpture collection here. It is the finest collection of American figurative sculpture in the world…you’ve got it right here at Brookgreen and Murrells Inlet.” 

The idea for an expansion of this size did not come out of nowhere. Joseph said it is something directors have had in mind for years. 

“All of the things that we’re doing were actually part of the master plan back in the ’80s,” Joseph said. “We are realizing a dream that we’ve had for over 50 years. We know that we are advancing the Huntington’s vision when they started Brookgreen Gardens 91 years ago.” 

Joseph said a project of this size is going to take time to finish, but they are hopeful to break ground on the conservatory within the next year. 

Donations to Campaign for the Next Generation can be made on the Brookgreen Gardens website