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With two art museums, a number of small independent galleries, and some quirky non-traditional art spaces, Columbia is a fantastic location for lovers of contemporary art who enjoy new local talent. Here are ten of the city’s must-visit art museums and galleries showcasing local and international talent.
The Columbia Museum of Art is arguably the most important art institution in all of South Carolina. The museum was founded in 1950 but relocated to its current premises – a large former department store that has been transformed into a spacious, airy venue perfectly in line with modern museums – in 1998. A total of 25 galleries offer an impressive range of artistic styles,different in both period and geographical origins. The multiple collections include works by the masters of Italian Renaissance and Baroque – of which Sandro Botticelli’s Nativity is a major highlight – exemplary items of American fine decorative arts spanning several centuries and an exotic, growing collection of Asian art and antiquities.
Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St, Columbia, SC, USA, +1 803 799 2810
Columbia’s City Art is three galleries in one. The main first floor gallery showcases regular exhibitions of art from local and regional artists and is over 2,800 square feet in area, its combination of hardwood floor, turn of the century brick walls and exposed wood beams and pillars giving the gallery a charming and inviting feel. The second level gallery is reserved for showing the works of the represented artists and are on permanent exhibition for visitors to view. Finally, the small works gallery is home to many smaller paintings, sculpture, pottery and photographs that are perfect for any budding art collector.
City Art, 1224 Lincoln St, Columbia, SC, USA, +1 803 252 3613
The Congaree Vista is a vibrant area in Columbia near the banks of the Congaree River which was revamped over the last few decades and is now bustling with many kind of shops and eateries. Of these, Nonnah’s is quite a popular spot among Columbia’s residents for its good coffee and a great variety of scrumptious desserts, although the discerning art lover will immediately notice that Nonnah’s walls are covered with exquisite paintings and the good news is that they are for sale as well. Nonnah’s regularly presents paintings by a rotating selection of local artists, giving its customers yet another good reason to visit the venue besides its delicious cakes.
Nonnah’s 930 Gervais St Columbia, SC, USA, +1 803 779 9599
There’s a strong hold that defends art and artists in Columbia, and it’s called 701 Center for Contemporary Art. The mission of this non profit centre is to promote an appreciation of contemporary visual arts in every possible way. In a large 2,500 square foot gallery, exhibitions of local and regional artists are held periodically but the centre also provides guided tours of artists’studios based within the Greater Columbia area. Additionally, the 701 Center runs an artist in- residence programme which provides 1,200 square feet of space for artists to live and work in and also oversees many educational activities aimed at both adults and children who want to nurture their passion for the arts.
701 Centre for Contemporary Art, 701 Whaley St Columbia, SC, USA, +1 803 779 4571
With 32 studios offered to local and regional artists to work and experiment with their practice, the Tapp’s Art Center in Columbia is a veritable art incubator – a pulsing hub where the newest ideas meet and grow off each other. In addition studios, the huge venue includes an exhibition space with 300 linear feet of walls that is regularly refilled with fresh artworks, making Tapp’s Art Center a must visit destination to learn more about contemporary art in South Carolina. Located on Main Street, the centre participates in the First Thursdays on Main series of events and exhibits new works of art every month.
Tapp’s Art Center, 1644 Main St, Columbia, SC, USA, +1 803 988 0013
Although operating under the art programme of Columbia College’s Division of Arts and Communications Studies, the Goodall Gallery is actually housed in the Spears Centre for the Arts,and has been since opening in 1977. The gallery hosts regular exhibitions of contemporary art by talented artists, ranging from local to international, aimed at not only the college’s art students, but also the general public at large.