Columbia Museum of Art
|Columbia Museum of Art|
|Location||Columbia, South Carolina
The building that housed the new museum had originally been erected as the private residence of the city's prominent Taylor family. Situated at the edge of downtown Columbia, adjacent to the campus of the University of South Carolina and three blocks from the South Carolina State House, the stately Taylor House, repurposed through the addition of gallery wings and a round planetarium, was home to the Columbia Museum for almost half a century.
The art collection that first went on view in 1950 was certainly modest in scope consisting of the gifts and bequests of local collectors. It included only ten Old Master paintings, the most significant having been executed by Joshua Reynolds, Scipione Pulzone, Juan de Pareja and Artus Wolffort.
This situation changed drastically in 1954 when the Columbia Museum was included among the 95 institutions nationwide selected to receive donations of Renaissance and Baroque art from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Designated a regional center by the Kress Foundation, the Columbia Museum of Art and Science received, over the next two decades, a total of 78 examples of fine and decorative art from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The Samuel H. Kress Foundation provided the essential nucleus of quality and historical breadth upon which the Museum could further build.
New building and the collection
With opening of the South Carolina State Museum in 1988, the Columbia Museum of Art and Science was free to eliminate its science component and devote its entire interest and resources to its primary mission as an art museum. Despite the additional gallery space made available by the removal of the science displays and the planetarium, it was clear, by the last decade of the century, that the Columbia Museum of Art had outgrown the old Taylor House complex and the 7,000 square feet of exhibition space it afforded.
The site eventually chosen or a new museum building lay in the heart of the city at the intersection of Main and Hampton Streets. This location was occupied by two adjacent department stores that now stood deserted. One of buildings was partially demolished to allow for the creation of a public space and sculpture garden called "Boyd Plaza" in front of the new art museum. The structural skeleton of the other department store provided the basic framework around which a completely modern museum building could be constructed. Designed by architects Bobby Lyles and Ashby Gressette of the Columbia-based firm of Stevens & Wilkinson, the reborn Columbia Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1998. The new museum provides 22,000 square feet of gallery space with an additional 30,000 awaiting future utilization.
The exterior of the new Columbia Museum of Art building, although contemporary in style, preserves visual memories (through the use of brick veneer and prominent entrance portico) of the institution's Taylor House past. The spacious brick-paved Boyd Plaza offers the visitor a comfortable place to relax and to view outdoor sculpture by such artists as Henry Moore and Robert Carroll, whose fountain sculpture Apollo Cascade is a recent addition.
The glass entry doors of the museum open into an light-filled atrium which rises the full two-story height of the building. The unique roof design, based upon an inverted truss, allows and abundance natural light. Since 2010, the entry atrium has been dominated by a great chandelier composed of bundled strands of vibrantly colored red, orange, and gold glass commissioned for this space from glass artist Dale Chihuly. Adjacent to atrium is the museum's 164-seat auditorium and on its far side is the entrance to the first-floor galleries. Four of these galleries accommodate changing exhibitions and two more are devoted to the display of selections of modern and contemporary art from the permanent collection.
The museum's second level contains 14 galleries devoted to a visual chronicle of history of European and American art from antiquity to the modern era. A small but significant collection of art and artifacts from the ancient Mediterranean world is presented in the first gallery. Included in antiquities presented here are examples of early-Greek ceramics from the R.V.D. Magoffin Collection, a large black-figured Greek lekythos acquired in 1973, the Robert L. Hanlin Collection of 4th-century BC Greek vases from South Italy, Roman glass from the George C. Brauer Collection and an exceptional collection of 12 Greco-Roman marble sculptures donated by Robert Y. Turner in 2002. These marbles include a headless standing statue of Hygeia and 11 Roman portrait heads.
It is in the next series of exhibition galleries that those works for which the museum is best known – Old Master European paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, including art from Samuel H. Kress Foundation are presented. At the Taylor House, the Kress collection was separated from the rest of the museum's collection; in the new building Kress works are integrated into whole allowing for chronological continuity and a more smoothly flowing progression through the history of western art. Artists represented include:
- Bernardo Daddi
- Sandro Botticelli (with his only fresco in an American collection)
- Ambrosius Benson
- Andrea Solario
- Francesco Parmigianino
- Jacopo Tintoretto
- Bernardo Strozzi
- Salvatore Rosa
- Guido Cagnacci
- Jacob van Ruisdael
- Alessandro Magnasco
- Jusepe de Ribera
- François Boucher
- Joshua Reynolds
- George Romney
- Benjamin Wilson
- Giovanni Canaletto
- Francesco Guardi
The sequence of the European tradition has interrupted recently by the introduction of gallery space in which to display Chinese works of art donated in 2003 and 2007 by Dr. Robert Y. Turner. His donation provides a survey of Chinese art from ca. 2000 BC to 1400 AD (Xiajiadian Culture to Yuan Dynasty) as tomb sculptures from the T'ang Dynasty. European and American paintings, sculpture, furniture and decorative arts from the 18th to the 20th century occupy the remaining galleries on this level. This portion of the museum's collection includes paintings by:
Furniture displayed in these galleries include pieces by Duncan Phyfe, Gustav Stickley and Louis Majorelle; silver by the Hayden brothers of Charleston; stained glass from Daniel Cottier and the Tiffany Studios; and ceramics from Newcomb College. Special collections housed at the museum include drawings from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and Bunzlauer pottery from eastern Germany.
- On Samuel Kress, his collection, and the foundation he founded, see the essay "Creating a More Cultured Understanding of Art" in Mack, pp. 3–18 and Marilyn Perry, "Five and Dime for Millions: The Samuel H. Kress Collection", Apollo, March 1991.
- The history of the Columbia Museum of Art is based upon information contained in Charles R. Mack, European Art in the Columbia Museum of Art. Volume I: The Thirteenth Through the Sixteenth Century, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2009, pp. 12–14 and Robert Ochs, The Columbia Art Association, 1915–1975. The Columbia Museum of Art,1950–1975: A History, Columbia: Columbia Museums of Art and Science, 1975, pp. 5–35, as well as upon the Columbia Museum of Art Visitors Guide, published July 12, 1998, as a supplement to The State newspaper.
- columbiamuseum.org, the museum's official website