The Columbia Museum of Art sparks powerful connections through art from around the corner and around the world in an environment that is welcoming to all. 

Core Values


We promise to be inspiring. We are a place for you to learn about each other and yourselves through the art of the world. We provide a variety of experiences designed to move you to connect, contemplate, and create. 


We promise to be welcoming. We strive to be warm, inviting, inclusive, and accessible. You belong here, and we promise to treat you that way. 


We promise to be community-centered. We are rooted in and reflective of our own diverse communities. We see ourselves as champions of a thriving Midlands.


We promise to be playful. We believe that art is an adventure, and we approach everything we do with a sense of open-minded exploration. 


We promise to be vibrant. We provide dynamic experiences that engage the mind, enrich the spirit, and fuel artistic energy. Your art museum is bright in spaces, ideas, and possibilities.


Art and Inclusion  

All people deserve equal opportunities. Racism, classism, ableism, misogyny, LGBTQ+ rights opposition, and actions that make anyone feel less than erode the potential of our communities and what we can accomplish together.
One of the many wonderful things about art is its role in healing. At the CMA we continue to offer art that not only celebrates diversity but causes us to reflect on the work that is still to be done toward equity and healing. Through deliberate work, we aspire to generate moments of reflection, learning, and advancement.  
As a team, we continue our path of vulnerable learning and nurturing mutual growth. We are examining what we’re doing well and what we’re not. We are focused on living our values and being an inclusive arts organization that is welcoming and inspiring to the public we serve.
Our ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility work includes:

  • 100% of the CMA Collection galleries today include work by women, Black artists, Indigenous artists, artists of color, and/or LGBTQ+ artists. 
  • In the past five years, 48% of all exhibitions have been exclusively by women, BIPOC, and/or LGBTQ+ artists. 
  • The recent exhibition 22 South Carolinians, on view 12/2/21—5/22/22, celebrated 48 works of art by 22 Black artists with roots in South Carolina.  
  • As a vehicle to foster staff participation in discussions, field trips, speakers, research, feedback, and conversations around DEAI topics, the CMA has hosted regular group time since summer 2020. These opportunities for growth, reflection, and change are yielding positive results both inside and outside the museum walls.  
  • Four staff members, including senior staff and upper-level managers, completed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate online program at the University of South Florida in spring 2021.
  • Also last spring, staff completed a survey, conducted by an outside consultant, to identify areas for improvement, growth, and learning in DEAI at the museum.
  • Last summer, the CMA conducted community listening sessions in preparation for the fall 2021 exhibition 30 Americans
  • Last fall, 20 employees completed a six-week Effective Equity training program facilitated by the Collaborative on Race at the University of South Carolina. 
  • The CMA strategic plan prioritizes staff and board leadership's long-term commitment to DEAI work. Planning is active January – June 2022 for board engagement and optimization work to align with CMA strategic plan goals. 
  • Senior staff are working with the CMA DEAI working group and legal counsel on the CMA Employee Handbook to update culture and policies to comply with laws, regulations, and workplace conditions and to remove potential biases. 
  • The CMA has established compensation salary ranges and internal pay equity for all staff and continues hiring in this structure.
  • All education and exhibition materials — art labels, tour scripts, marketing materials, etc. — are reviewed to ensure the use of inclusive language and images.
  • With the support of leadership and one another, each staff member owns their role in contributing to a culture where all visitors and staff feel safe, heard, and valued.

Our DEAI work is not a sprint, it’s a relay where teamwork achieves successes. Check back quarterly to read about DEAI work in your art museum. I hope you will visit very soon — we look forward to welcoming you.

Della Watkins, executive director 


The CMA is committed to the concept of the modern museum. We believe in being inclusive and participatory. We believe that art is meant to be experienced, not just seen.

Your museum is a place brimming with activity and new ideas.


  • Internationally renowned collection
  • Traveling shows and only-at-CMA exhibitions
  • Interactive Cross Hatch activity space
  • Weekly, monthly, and annual events for all ages
  • Art that spans 5,000 years of global history in 26 galleries


  • National Medal for Museum and Library Service
  • Two Governor's Awards for the Arts for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina
  • National Art Education Association award
  • National Park Foundation Award

The Collection

In addition to our rotating exhibitions, the CMA has a fantastically diverse permanent collection of art. In fact, we have one of the largest and most impressive international collections in the southeast, including many Renaissance and Baroque pieces. We organize our collection by theme, so that visitors can explore thematically similar pieces from across many eras. We think this creates a richer experience for our guests, who enjoy seeing how an idea like "Vice and Virtue" is explored in different ways over the years.

View of the Seine by French Impressionist Claude Monet


We are grateful for the support of our sustaining partners


The Columbia Museum of Art received a Growth Grant from South Carolina Humanities, www.schumanities.org. Funding for the Growth Grants has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the NEH Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) initiative.


This project is funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the American Rescue Plan.