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 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  


In my fourth year as executive director for the Columbia Museum of Art, I can look back on many accomplishments this team has achieved, from the complete facility renovation, AAM reaccreditation, the record-setting attendance during the Van Gogh and His Inspirations show, to the flexible and caring way our team continues to deliver programming during the ongoing pandemic. These efforts have been nothing short of extraordinary.
Of important note is the work our team had undertaken before my tenure and that continues today. That is the work of inclusivity and making sure everyone feels welcome at the CMA. 
All people deserve equal opportunities. Black lives deeply matter, and racism, classism, 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. Our deliberate work aspires 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:  

  • Upon reopening after the renovation in 2018, the CMA reinstalled all the collection galleries thematically allowing for 50% of the galleries to include art by women and Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC). 
  • The CMA has established compensation salary ranges and internal pay equity for all staff.
  • In the past five years, 34% of all exhibitions have been exclusively by women and BIPOC artists. 
  • All education and exhibition materials, art labels, tour scripts, marketing materials, etc. are reviewed to ensure the use of inclusive language.
  • As an organization, we actively engage in DEAI work with the board, staff, and volunteers while engaging stakeholders and communities.
  • In spring 2021, the museum conducted a staff diversity and inclusion insight survey.
  • The Collection Policy and Employee Handbook are under revision to remove potential biases.
  • The current strategic plan prioritizes staff and board leadership's long-term commitment to DEAI work, including benchmarks and action steps.
  • With the support of leadership and the CMA DEAI Working Group, each staff member owns their role in contributing to a culture where all feel safe, heard, and valued.

Our DEAI work is not a sprint, it’s a relay where teamwork achieves successes. Stay tuned for regular DEAI updates from your art museum. I hope you will visit very soon — we look forward to welcoming you.  

Della Watkins, executive director 


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.