Who knew that Columbia, South Carolina was home to a premier international art museum?
Downtown Columbia, SC is still going through a transformation of sorts. Not quite a bustling or lively downtown on a Saturday afternoon, one can see that it’s trying to emerge. Amid the sleepy sidewalks, there are sparks of life here and there. New restaurants and retail are starting to open.
The Columbia Museum of Art
It’s a clean and modern building with light, open spaces. Transformed from an old Macy’s dept store in 1998, this award-winning architectural structure now houses twenty-five galleries in over 20,000 square feet of exhibit space. The lighting, climate control, security, and exhibit graphics are all state of the art thanks to the careful planning and designing of the George Sexton Associates, A Washington DC based firm that has done projects for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago to name a few.
Permanent Collections at the Columbia Museum of Art
The second floor of the Museum houses all of the permanent collections. Visitors usually start in the Ancient Gallery which features Roman portraiture from circa 68A.D. through the 4th and 5th centuries.
The Helen and Joseph Walker, JR Gallery has a collection of medieval and early renaissance art with paintings and statues featuring virgin and child paintings while the Herbert Hart Gallery displays pieces from the 15th century renaissance period.
The John Clifton and Frances Bell Judy Gallery has a collection of 17th century and baroque with Dutch artists.
There are several paintings from the Kress Collection. H.E. Kress was a prominent South Carolina businessman. In fact, across the street is the old H.E. Kress 5 cent, 10 cent and 25 cent store.
UPS, SunTrust, Wachovia, and First Citizens Bank all contributing pieces in their galleries.
Mamie and William Andrew Treadway Jr Gallery have a large collection of Larry Clark Photography. Black and White photos. Diana Henstell donated all of the photos.
Andrew Kern Gallery houses an eclectic collection of impressionism and early 19th-century art including a pastel by Monet and an armoire by Louis Majorelle.
Temporary Exhibits at the Columbia Museum of Art
The first floor of the museum is dedicated to temporary exhibits. From May 21 until Sept 19 they will house the Imperial Splendor Renaissance Tapestries collection. From May 28 through September 5 will also showcase Innovation and Change: Great Ceramics from the Ceramics Research Center.
The Museum also features a great community education program offering art classes, lectures, gallery talks, films, and concerts.
Things for Kids at the Columbia Museum of Art
Kids are special too at the Museum with an Interactive Gallery on the first floor. This space offers kids a place where they can use white and black graphite on paper and create their own work of art. The museum also showcases student art from across the state of South Carolina.
The museum attracts over 10,000 visitors each month. Sundays are a popular day to visit as admission is free courtesy of BlueCross BlueShield.
Places to Eat Near the Columbia Museum of Art
Have breakfast or lunch at the Gotham Bagel Café right across the street from the Museum. Service is counter style with a variety of bagels (of course!) soups and sandwiches on the menu. Portions are large and tasty. They’re open from 7am until 3pm during the week and also open from 5pm until midnight on Thurs, Fri and Saturday nights.
Gotham Bagel Café
1508 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Places to Stay Near the Columbia Museum of Art
Both the Marriott and Sheraton are located downtown and within walking distance of the Museum.
1200 Hampton Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201 USA
1400 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29201