[Update: Through a sponsorship from BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the museum will offer free admission June 16 through 25.]
As the reopening march continues in South Carolina, one of the Capital City's key cultural institutions has announced plans to welcome back visitors. The Columbia Museum of Art will open its doors to the public on June 16, resuming operation three months after it closed due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
"We are so excited to welcome visitors back to the museum, and we want to do it safely and thoughtfully," Executive Director Della Watkins tells Free Times. "Reopening June 16 gives us ample time to have everything we need, from new policies to staff training to signage to sanitizer, in place so we can be confident that we’re providing museum goers with the best experience possible."
Included with the museum's May 22 announcement is the news that it will still host summer camps, beginning the first week of July and stretching into August. A list of programs available can be found here.
"June camps weren’t going to happen, but we can be cautiously optimistic about the rest of the summer," Watkins offers. "Pushing back the summer camp season to start in July gave us enough time to create a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan in conjunction with the CDC and local, state, and national camp guidelines to ensure campers are safe in our spaces and have fun and fulfilling experiences."
A news release spells out some of the precautions the museum will take in light of the coronavirus' still lingering threat, which include an emphasis on "cleaning and physical distancing practices."
"Protective measures will include limited timed admission tickets, reduced gallery capacities, robust cleaning practices, and the required use of face masks or cloth coverings," the statement reads. "The CMA continues to adhere to CDC recommendations and government directives."
The "Visit" page on the museum's website notes that patrons should be "on the lookout for other programs to come later in the summer," but Watkins cautions it could still be a while before the museum resumes hosting its diverse array of special events.
"Right now we’re focused on the day-to-day museum experience and getting camp season set to go," she explains. "We really miss working so closely with our partners in planning events, but programs are more complicated and each event will require different safety guidelines.
"My staff is currently working with partners like One Columbia, The Whig, The Nickelodeon, Chaye Alexander, and the [South Carolina] Philharmonic to see how together we can think of creative ways to welcome back event audiences. Our first events may only be for 20 to 40 people in a big space like the CMA Loft or Boyd Plaza.
"Something really big like Arts & Draughts is likely to happen in 2021, while late this summer or fall, we may be able to host small concerts, lectures, or other performances. As the situation evolves, we are poised to have an agile and innovative response to what our opportunities will be going forward. It’s all about adaptability and scalability."