Book A Tour

Get insight from a docent on a guided tour of featured exhibitions or the CMA Collection. When your tour is over, please continue exploring the galleries for as long as you'd like!

Book a School Tour             Book a Group Tour


Collection Tours Include

Cornerstones of the Collection 
From corner to corner, see key works in the collection from around the globe and from ancient to modern. This tour includes gems by artists like Renée Cox, Andy Warhol, and Sandro Botticelli, along with the first piece ever purchased by the CMA. 

Carolina in the Collection
Discover the rich artistic tapestry of South Carolina. See works by artists in our state and treasures that once adorned local homes. Learn about the Charleston Renaissance, and artists right here in Columbia while you explore works by Osamu Kobayashi, Richard Samuel Roberts, Frank Lloyd Wright, and more.

Behind the Collection 
Get a glimpse into the story behind the art: the science to create the materials, the lives that shaped the artists' views, the thinking that leads a museum to acquire a piece, and the care that's required to keep a work of art in excellent condition for thousands of years. 


Please book at least 4 weeks prior to your visit. To book, follow the links below. Personal direct audio amplification devices are available upon request. Questions? Call 803-343-2163 or email tours@columbiamuseum.org. Also, see our Group Tour Guidelines.

Pre-K - 12 School Groups

The CMA's education programs are recognized for their curriculum-based approach. Interactive gallery tours are offered in concert with hands-on creative projects in the studios. 

Note: All school groups, including self-guided groups, must have a reservation.

Pricing and Information

  • School group pricing is only available during the week (Tuesday through Friday) @ $5 per student. 
  • Required number of chaperones free (one adult per 10 students); $11 per extra chaperone
  • $35 non-refundable reservation deposit fee
  • Free or reduced admission for First Thursday on Main does not apply to group tours.
  • Minimum of 10 students
  • Boyd Plaza, in front of the museum, is a lovely spot for enjoying bag lunches.

See Programs for Pre-K - 12

Our Art for All School Tours, free for Title I schools with a stipend for transportation, are supported by the Lipscomb Family Foundation, the Coles Family Foundation of Central Carolina Community Foundation, and the Sonoco Foundation.


Docent-Led Tour

Interested in an in-depth tour of the CMA's collection or traveling exhibition? Schedule a docent-led tour for your group. Guided tours are led by the museum's dedicated Docent Corps and are a great way to develop a deeper understanding of the museum's collection and exhibitions.

  • $11 per person admission
  • $50 non-refundable reservation deposit fee
  • Free or reduced admission for First Thursday on Main does not apply to group tours.
  • Minimum of 10 individuals

    Book a Tour

College Groups

Instructors are invited to bring their classes to explore the galleries self-guided or with a docent-led tour. If you want to have your students sketch in the galleries, review our policy below. College groups will receive school tour pricing.

Pricing and Information

  • School group pricing is only available during the week (Tuesday through Friday) @ $5 per student
  • $35 non-refundable reservation deposit fee
  • Free or reduced admission for First Thursday on Main does not apply to group tours.
  • Minimum of 10 students
  • Boyd Plaza, in front of the museum, is a lovely spot for enjoying bag lunches on sunny days

Sketching in the Galleries

Sketching, in pencil only, is permitted in all the second floor collection galleries of the Columbia Museum of Art for non-commercial purposes, provided that the following rules are followed. Sketching is also permitted in most special exhibitions; please inquire at the visitor services desk about current exhibitions and guidelines.

  • Paper or sketchbooks should not exceed 14 x 17 inches. Easels are not permitted.
  • Never point at a work using your pencil or any other object. Please do not touch the works for any reason.
  • A reasonable distance must be maintained from the work to allow a clear view for others who may wish to observe the work.
  • During times of high volume visitation, sketching may be restricted. Sketching is permitted only in locations that do not obstruct an entrance or exit, do not compromise the safety or security of the artwork and/or other CMA visitors, and do not obstruct the view of the art.

     Book a Tour

Home School Parents and Leaders of Multi-Age Groups

The CMA is an excellent resource for home-schooled students and multi-age groups. We recommend grouping children by age and grade level whenever possible. If you are planning a self-directed visit, we recommend that group leaders visit the museum prior to the group visit.

   Book a Tour

Groups of less than 10 don't need to make a reservation. Groups of 10 or more should schedule their visit through the museum's group tour coordinator, even if not requesting a guided tour, to assure the best visit possible. The group tour coordinator can advise you on the best days and times to avoid peak hours. Requests outside of the museum's public hours will require an additional non-refundable $50 deposit if we are able to accommodate (school tours excluded).


Touch Tours 

Touch Tours provide an opportunity for visitors who are blind or have low vision to experience the diverse 3D work in the CMA Collection. Explore the galleries with a skilled museum educator trained to provide detailed verbal description of the work on view, while experiencing a selection of objects through touch and other senses.
Touch Tours are available to visitors who are blind or partially sighted in groups of 5 to 10. These 90-minute tours take place when the galleries are closed to the general public and require four weeks’ advance notice to schedule. To book a tour call 803-343-2163 or email tours@columbiamuseum.org.


Our Approach

The CMA incorporates an approach called Visual Thinking Strategies, an inquiry-based method of discussing art, in all of its tours. With VTS, rather than simply being told about a work of art, you explore it as a group. You form ideas about the piece naturally, informed by what you see in the artwork while also building on the interpretations of your peers. Tour guides help facilitate this fun way to explore the exhibitions and galleries.


Group Tour Guidelines

Arrival Time: Please arrange for your group to arrive fifteen minutes before your scheduled program.

Late Arrival: Flat tire? Bad weather? Sick child? Please call us if you know that you are running late! We will make every effort to accommodate you or to reschedule the program. Remember that tours are tightly scheduled. Groups that fail to arrive within fifteen minutes of the scheduled time without prior approval will forfeit their reservation. No exceptions.

Group Size: A minimum of ten students (school groups) or adults (adult groups) constitute a group.

Payment: A non-refundable reservation deposit of $35 (school groups) or $50 (adult groups) will be charged for every reservation. Admission fees are due upon the time of arrival and are requested to be paid in one payment form. Free or reduced admission for First Thursday on Main and Soda City Saturdays does not apply to group tours.

Cancellations, Rescheduling, and Other Changes: The museum will work with you to select another date if needed; however, rescheduled dates are subject to availability.  Call Jackie at 803-343-2163 or email tours@columbiamuseum.org if you need to cancel or reschedule your reservation. Also, please let us know if the size of your group varies from that listed on your confirmation. If your group decreases to fewer than ten participants, you are still required to pay the minimum group rate.

Special Needs: Please inform us of any special needs that your group members may have when you book your reservation. This allows our staff adequate time to ensure that these needs are met. For those with physical disabilities, the museum offers full accessibility.