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Sip, create, explore: Arts & Draughts returns tonight to Columbia Museum of Art and you don’t want to miss it

Arts & Draughts participants make do-it-yourself crafts in the lobby of the Columbia Museum of Art.
Arts & Draughts participants make do-it-yourself crafts in the lobby of the Columbia Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Columbia Museum of Art

Beer drinkers have the opportunity to be art connoisseurs as the Columbia Museum of Art’s popular Arts & Draughts returns for 2019.

Or perhaps art connoisseurs have the opportunity to be beer drinkers?

With its recent renovations still pristinely new, a mural from one of the leading postwar American artists on display, and beer on tap from Columbia Craft Brewing Company and The Whig, it’s a good time to visit the Columbia Museum of Art.

“Arts & Draughts is a great time to come enjoy your new, vibrant museum with a fresh, visitor-centered focus,” said executive director Della Watkins. “Every single change — the welcoming entrance on Main Street, the revamped collection galleries, the updated hours, to name a few — is meant to provide more ways to connect with art and each other. I cannot wait for you to experience art in new ways and to make yourselves at home here.”

The first Arts & Draughts since the completion of the CMA’s extensive two-year renovation project is Jan. 18, and includes more arts, more draughts, and new museum spaces, including transformed collection galleries, art projects in the new open studios, and a sneak peek at the Cross Hatch, an interactive space for all ages.

A crowd enjoys live music during a past Arts & Draughts event at Columbia Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Columbia Museum of Art

With the Boyd Plaza project still under construction, Arts & Draughts will be completely indoors this time. But that will give visitors plenty of time to tour the new renovations as well as take in featured exhibitions “Jackson Pollock: Mural” and “Midcentury Masters: Jasper Johns’ Gifts to the CMA.”

“Historically, Arts & Draughts has lived mostly on Boyd Plaza and in the museum lobby,” said Joelle Ryan-Cook, CMA deputy director and director of external affairs. “But now we have all these new spaces to play in. Enjoying a beer with your friends while making art in the studios, for instance, is pretty awesome, and we’re excited to be able to offer these types of experiences to visitors in an even bigger way.”

There will be a cash bar and beer tastings from Columbia Craft Brewing Company, and The Whig will have a a sour beer station. Food will be provided by Village Idiot Pizza, Smokey Loggins, and Curiosity Coffee Bar.

The evening features live music from H3RO, NUMBTONGUE, and Stagbriar, as well as a comedy set from Soda City Stand Up. The collection galleries — recently expanded, renovated, and reinstalled with an innovative thematic approach — are open with scavenger hunts and unique perspective tours led by drag queens Ebony Wood and Elena DeVour.

The University of South Carolina’s Ink and Paper returns with printmaking projects, Girls Rock Columbia brings “Pin the String on the Bass,” and new community partner Subpar Magazine offers a surprise D.I.Y. art activity.

The Columbia Museum of Art recently finished an extensive two-year renovation project, which features renovated and expanded collection galleries. Courtesy of the Columbia Museum of Art

Welcome to the new CMA

The Columbia Museum of Art recently finished it’s extensive two-year renovation project, but not all of the changes can be measured by the 425 gallons of paint, 22.5 miles of electrical wiring or 3,500 linear feet of light track used in the construction.

Many of the changes are what the museum calls “a set of experience promises” that include vows to be welcoming, inspiring, community-centered, playful, and vibrant.

“We are absolutely thrilled with renovations and the many creative opportunities they afford,” said Watkins. “Every single change is meant to provide more ways to connect with art and each other. I cannot wait for you to experience the art in new ways and make yourselves at home in your new, vibrant museum.”

Recognizing the needs of a 21st century museum visitor and reflecting an institutional shift in ways of engagement, CMA has a redesigned website, longer gallery hours (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday), enhanced community days (Free First Thursdays and reduced admission during Soda City Saturdays), a more flexible and inclusive membership structure, more affordable admission rates ($10 or less rather than $12), and updated visitor policies.

And the museum will utilize the physical changes funded by a five-year capital campaign, which includes new collection galleries with a progressive thematic layout, new studios for artmaking, cutting-edge program and event spaces, an entrance on Main Street, and a revamped museum shop.

Overall, more than 20,000 square feet of functional space was added, renovated, and refreshed within the building’s existing footprint:

Additional spaces: Loft, Loft restrooms, 3 Collection Galleries, second-floor catering kitchen, Main Street entrance and lobby.

Renovated spaces: Cross Hatch, Salon, all other restrooms, CMA Shop, Lower Atrium, Reception Gallery, Community Gallery, 17 existing Collection Galleries, the Vault, all 3 studios, first-floor catering kitchen.

Refreshed spaces: Upper Atrium, Board Room, Conference Room, Education wing, offices.

Other renovations

All 17 galleries completely refurbished, with three new galleries dedicated to modern and contemporary art (first time ever) added, bringing the total to 20.

Rather than the traditional march through art history, the collection is now laid out in an innovative thematic approach. With themes such as “Art and Identity” and “Spiritual Beings,” visitors can see how different artists, across different eras, cultures, and continents, have focused on common ideas. Seeing pieces together that examine the same themes gives them a whole new context.

Three custom-designed interactive stations, the first ones ever in the collection galleries.

348 total number of works on view, with every label rewritten.

13 works conserved for the reinstallation.

30 new acquisitions on display.

The Vault: Enlarged and enhanced art storage.

Studios: A third studio added, and all studios are now equipped with ADA sink access, smartboard technology, and maker space furniture.

The Loft: This multifunctional space features state-of-the-art lighting and audio/visual components, brand-new dedicated bathrooms, and a 500 square foot catering kitchen.

CMA Shop: New and improved

Main Street entrance and lobby: The Main Street District has grown by leaps and bounds since we moved here in 1998, and our new main entrance reflects that.

Lower Atrium and Reception Gallery

Bathrooms: A third set of multi-stall bathrooms added to the Loft, plus two single-stall bathrooms added to the Main Street Lobby.

Catering kitchens

State-of-the-art security system

If you go

Arts & Draughts

When: 7-10 p.m. Jan. 18

Where: Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St.

Cost: $10 general admission, $5 for members. Join or renew your membership or volunteer that night and get in free.

Noteworthy: Other scheduled Arts & Draughts events are March 22 and June 21.