FAQs

What’s changing?

The most noticeable changes will be to the building itself. We’re adding new large galleries for contemporary art, another studio, a large and versatile event space, an interactive education gallery, and a new, welcoming entrance on Main Street. We’re also growing our endowment to strengthen our financial future, and we’re investing in innovative ways of thinking about public programs so that we can offer even richer experiences with art.

Is the building expanding?

Actually, it isn’t. When we converted the old Macy's department store into the museum it is today, we intentionally built to allow for future development within our existing footprint. All of the new spaces are coming from creative, thoughtful renovations and developing of unfinished spaces within the existing building. 

Why add an entrance on Main Street?

When we moved to this building in 1998, it was because we shared a hope with the city of Columbia that it would help spur revitalization of the Main Street business district. The museum has undoubtedly been one of the most important catalysts for this revitalization, which has been turning downtown Columbia into a place where people want to be. A welcoming presence on Main Street is one way we’re doubling down on our commitment to this vibrant downtown neighborhood. Plus, this additional entrance allows us to be as active as possible with a new ability to host simultaneous events upstairs and downstairs. 

What is an endowment and why is it important?

An endowment is a fund that holds its principal in perpetuity and only pays out a small portion each year, which goes to support museum operations and programs. Endowment investments have two goals: to grow the principal and to generate income.

Endowments give nonprofits sources of stable revenue that helps allow them to hire and retain talented staff, put on wonderful exhibitions, create fun and educational programs, and to do necessary things like keep the lights on, keep the art safe, and keep supplies for the building. That stuff is difficult to fundraise for but essential to our ability to keep your museum open, so endowments matter a lot!  

Before the campaign, our endowment funded less than 3% of our annual budget. Thanks to our capital campaign donors, the endowment has doubled, meaning it will cover a larger portion of our annual budget. This has a tremendous impact on the museum’s long-term success and our ability to educate and serve Columbia, the state, and the region.  All of this momentum serves to continue our upward path to reach thousands more people and make a difference for our community now and for generations to come.

When is all of this happening?

We’ve already started on a few projects behind the scenes to help our curatorial staff keep the art safe and sound. But the most noticeable construction work will be starting in the spring of 2017 and go on through summer of 2018. Of course, there is always the chance that timetables can change with construction, so we’ll keep you updated here if that happens!

Will the museum close to the public during construction?

We will remain open throughout the renovations. We may need to close down specific areas of the building as the work is going on. The biggest effect you’ll see will be when we need to close the collection galleries on the second floor so that our awesome curatorial team can move and store our artwork in safe places far away from construction equipment. We expect that to happen March 2017 through summer 2018. The first floor galleries will be open throughout.

Will there still be programs and events?

Yes! We will continue to offer programs throughout the entire length of construction. We may need to restrict access to certain areas of the building at times, but we aren't about to let that stop us!

What has already happened?

We’ve added beautiful banners along Main Street. We’ve also brought in Lectus stools to provide portable, lightweight seating during your gallery visits. And we’ve invested in Visual Thinking Strategies to make our approach to art more collaborative. Click here to learn more about the changes.

Who is paying for this?

The donors! For the past five years, the museum has been in the “private” phase of the campaign. That means we have been going to some of our loyal donors and asking them to give on an individual basis. This is a very common practice for nonprofits during major fundraising campaigns. 

The State! Here’s a little-known fact: In 1949, the General Assembly passed legislation establishing the Columbia Museum of Art to “further the cultural life of the City of Columbia, Richland County, and the State of South Carolina.“ In recent years, a number of forward-thinking state legislators decided it was time to take a more active role in our future, and the General Assembly appropriated $1.2 million in one-time support for our capital renovations.
 
The City! Did you know that the Columbia Museum of Art facility is owned by the City of Columbia? City Council also appoints members of the Columbia Museum of Art Commission, and provides generous grant support to the museum each and every year. This year, City Council unanimously approved a five-year, $1 million dollar commitment for this campaign. 

You! Do you want to be a part of the future of the CMA? Learn how here.

How can I help?

Donate! By donating to the museum you are providing a place for students to fall in love with art, you are bringing bigger exhibitions to Columbia, you are contributing to the economic growth of Main Street, and you are ensuring that we are able to keep the lights on in our beautifully restored building. Become our partner and consider making a multi-year pledge today.

And, should it come up, be patient with our mess. The next year and a half are going to be a little interesting at the CMA with construction and reconfigured programs. Please know we are trying our hardest to make sure that you still have the best experience possible at the museum.