Columbia Museum of Art
Columbia SC 29201
- Tue: 11am-5pm
- Wed: 11am-5pm
- Thu: 11am-5pm
- Fri: 11am-5pm
- Sat: 10am-5pm
- Sun: 12pm-5pm
Set in the heart of South Carolina's capital city, just a short stroll from the historic State House, the Columbia Museum of Art, founded in 1950, features a wide variety of American, Asian and European collections in its 20,000 square feet of gallery space, with notable Medieval, Italian Renaissance and Baroque art among its more than 7,000 permanent pieces. The museum -- which also has a 154-seat auditorium, art studios, a museum shop and event space -- also rotates prominent national exhibitions every few months.
Best and worst time to go to Columbia MOA
The museum is open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. If you'd like to go in the evening, plan your visit for the first Thursday of the month, when the museum extends its hours to 8 p.m., making it an enticing date-night option for couples. Another great option: Sunday afternoons, when the museum's permanent collections are free to the public. Just don't go on a Monday, when the museum is closed.
Must see/do at Columbia MOA
Take a walk through the museum's Kress Collection, which forms the foundation of its European holdings and includes 77 Renaissance and Baroque paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from the Old Masters, including a rare Nativity fresco by Sandro Botticelli. Also don't miss a sizable Asian antiquities collection that includes Water-Moon Guanyin Bodhisattva, an intricate wooden sculpture believed to date as far back as the late 1300s, as well as snuff bottles and ancient ceramic animals dating as far back as 200 B.C. And be sure to check the museum's current visiting exhibitions. In the past, the list has included "From Marilyn to Mao: Andy Warhol's Famous Faces" and a variety of showcases from local and regional artists, such as "Independent Spirits: Women Artists of South Carolina."
Admission to Columbia MOA
Museum admission is below $15 for adults, with slight discounts for seniors. Students receive a steeper discount -- about half the adult cost -- and children 5 and under are admitted free. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, active-duty military personnel and their families are admitted free through the Blue Star Museum initiative. The free Sunday public admission does not include ticketed exhibitions. Individual and family memberships are offered for about $75 or less that include unlimited admission for a year, discounts on concerts and classes, member appreciation days, museum shop discounts and free entry to more than 80 museums throughout the Southeast.
Parking and public transportation to Columbia MOA
Parking is available in metered spaces near the museum's location at the corner of Hampton and Main streets, as well as at the City Center Garage at 1227 Taylor Street, less than a five-minute walk from the museum along a landscaped pedestrian path. Metered parking and the garage are free on Saturdays and Sundays. The COMET, Columbia's public transportation system, has numerous daily routes -- including the 34B Bush River Road/Saint Andrews, the 26 West Columbia and the 201 Rosewood -- that stop at its transit center near the intersection of Sumter and Laurel streets, about a seven-minute walk northeast of the museum. Visit catchthecomet.org to view connecting routes and times from various sections of the city.
Food at Columbia MOA
No on-site dining is available at the museum, which allows food, drink and chewing gum in its public areas but not in the galleries. However, several eateries are within walking distance, including Bourbon, an eclectic whiskey bar at 1214 Main Street that features tempting lunch and dinner menus of Cajun-Creole classics such as gumbo, jambalaya and etoufee. To continue the art theme, visit Midlands' Modern Southern Food Arts in the nearby Columbia Marriott, about a block from the museum. There, you'll find a variety of contemporary Southern American masterpieces for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- such as fried green tomatoes and chicken and waffles -- served in a bright, airy and modern setting.
Insider tip for visitors to Columbia MOA
Many don't think of an art museum as a place to take the kids, but the Columbia Museum of Art bucks that stereotype with an Interactive Education Gallery where children can create their own masterpieces and Art Explorer Backpacks, which can be checked out at the visitors desk and include colored pencils, sketchpads, binoculars, compasses and other hands-on activities for ages 2-10.
Author's bio: Kevin Adams is a freelance writer who has lived in Orlando for more than a decade and has had travel articles appear on USAToday.com and in Golfweek magazine.