Press Release

CMA celebrates 15 years as a downtown catalyst on Main Street

Columbia, SC – This month, the Columbia Museum of Art celebrates 15 years of being in its present location on Main Street in the heart of downtown Columbia. As a thank you for 15 years of support, the CMA offers free admission and guided tours on the official anniversary, Thursday, July 18 from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. In addition, the CMA offers the community the opportunity to save $15 on general membership during July. Details are available at

Since moving to Main Street in 1998, the CMA has been a cultural anchor and helped to create a vibrant and energetic downtown. The CMA has greatly expanded its education and outreach efforts to reach a broader and more diverse base of visitors and patrons. The museum has also steadily increased its membership, donor base and attendance from all over the Southeast. The CMA’s most recent contribution to Main Street improvements was the installation of six large-scale banners featuring images from the collection, which invoke a sense of change and excitement.

As a catalyst for downtown growth, the CMA has attracted businesses, residents and visitors to Main Street.

“The Columbia Museum of Art opens doors to arts, history and cultures that many citizens have no other way of experiencing,” Richland County Councilman Paul Livingston said.

We know that the arts are good for the vibrancy of our community and contribute to the quality of life of our citizens, but we also know that the arts are good for business.

“The blocks surrounding the CMA are sought after by new retailers, whose businesses benefit from the visitors drawn to the stellar programming offered each year,” Heather Spires, Vice President, Recruitment, City Center Partnership said.

Because of increased programming and world-class exhibitions, the CMA tourism numbers are high, attendance is on the rise and cultural tourists are spending more money in restaurants and hotels than any other tourist demographic. The last economic impact study shows that the combined impacts of the direct operations of the CMA and the spending by museum visitors generated almost $23 million in economic activity in Columbia.

“For 15 years, the Columbia Museum of Art has been a vital partner in creating the vibrant hub of activity we see in Downtown Columbia today,” Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said. “Thanks to their vision and leadership, we are building a critical mass of creativity with the power to transform Columbia into a truly world-class city.”

As the largest art museum in the state, with the most significant international collection and exhibition programs, the CMA quickly became the leading art museum in the region and a must-see destination for tourists around the southeast.

“There is no right or wrong way to be at the CMA,” CMA Executive Director Karen Brosius said. “The crucial thing is to be here and to experience art in a unique way. To see things you’ve never seen before.”

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