Columbia, S.C. – Spring has sprung, Mother’s Day weekend is around the corner, and the Columbia Museum of Art announces the return of Art Blossoms, a beautifully botanical exhibition experience and museum fundraiser on view Thursday, May 5, through Sunday, May 8, with a packed schedule of events including an opening celebration on Wednesday, May 4. Over four festive days of flowers, fun, and fine art, Art Blossoms showcases a kaleidoscope of fresh floral arrangements — located throughout CMA galleries, public spaces, and Boyd Plaza — created by local garden clubs, florists, and designers alongside the paintings and sculptures that inspired them.
“This annual springtime art and flower show is a must-do,” says CMA Executive Director Della Watkins. “Breathtaking floral displays throughout the CMA and on beautiful Boyd Plaza will dazzle and delight one and all. Proceeds from Art Blossoms support ongoing exceptional programs and exhibitions at the CMA.”
This year, the CMA is collaborating with three local partner organizations — Blue Bike SC, Historic Columbia, and Richland Library — to bring the Art Blossoms experience beyond the museum walls. Participants can plan to spend their weekend exploring Columbia with botanical adventures around the city.
Visitors are invited to marvel at living art arrangements and to participate in a full schedule of dynamic events, including the opening celebration, talks, workshops, a bike parade, brunch, demonstrations, and tours. During the run of Art Blossoms, Azalea Coffee Bar will offer refreshments for sale at a pop-up café inside the museum from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day.
In addition to the CMA Collection, exhibitions on view during Art Blossoms include Rodin: Contemplation and Dreams / Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections (closing May 15), 22 South Carolinians (closing May 22), and Anila Quayyum Agha: Let A Million Flowers Bloom (closing May 29).
Now in its second year, Art Blossoms is a unique exhibition held annually on Mother’s Day weekend that also serves as a fundraiser for the Columbia Museum of Art. Every ticket purchased for the exhibition and its related events supports the CMA’s award-winning arts education and programming and helps to ensure a thriving creative community in the Midlands.
Art Blossoms general museum admission: $15 / $5 for members. General admission tickets are sold at the door and not available for advance purchase. Event tickets are on sale now.
Art Blossoms Events
Art Blossoms Opening Celebration
Wednesday, May 4 | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Join us for this exclusive preview of Art Blossoms the night before it opens to the public. Chat with the creators of the stunning floral arrangements and enjoy hors d’oeuvres from 8th Wonder Cuisine, specialty cocktails, and live music in the open air of Boyd Plaza. Mingle inside the museum and view beautiful florals that interpret works of art throughout the CMA galleries and public spaces. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. $85 / $65 for members.
Botany ArtBreak with Dr. John Nelson
Thursday, May 5 | 11:00 a.m. – Noon
On opening day of Art Blossoms, Dr. John Nelson, curator emeritus for the A.C. Moore Herbarium at UofSC, presents a crash course on plant diversity as well as a basic understanding of how flowers are “put together.” Strengthen that green thumb with an appreciation of the complexity and variety of flowers around us. Grab a beverage from Azalea Coffee Bar before or after the talk. Don’t worry, there’s no quiz! But there are more than 20 floral arrangements in Art Blossoms that you can explore to test your new knowledge. Gallery admission and one beverage from Azalea Coffee Bar included in registration. $20 / $16 for members.
Dr. Nelson was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from UofSC, a master’s degree in botany from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Florida State University, where he studied floral anatomy. His academic training was followed by six years with the SC Heritage Program as ecologist and then botanist. Nelson began a faculty appointment in biological sciences at UofSC and assumed the role of curator of the herbarium. Since retiring in 2018, he remains active in the herbarium and with field work, collecting plants and preparing scientific specimens. He remains committed to public service through a formal offering of free plant identifications in a syndicated, weekly newspaper column called “Mystery Plant.” Nelson is also a regular guest on the “Mystery Doctor with the Mystery Plant” segment of Clemson’s Making it Grow! TV series.
Public Tour: CMA Collection in Bloom
Thursday, May 5 | 11:00 a.m. – Noon
Friday, May 6 | 11:00 a.m. – Noon
Enjoy a tour of the CMA Collection that focuses on blooming blossoms and growing gardens. Docents lead flora-forward tours of the galleries featuring glimpses of Art Blossoms arrangements on view. Free with Art Blossoms admission: $15 / $5 for members.
Roses and Rosé (SOLD OUT)
Friday, May 6 | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Take a flora-focused tour of art through the galleries and Art Blossoms arrangements. Along the way, learn about the significance of various types of flowers across time periods and cultures. Then enjoy wine expertly paired with Art Blossoms arrangements. Registration required. Ages 21 and up. Tables: $64 – $240.
Flower Pedals: A Botanical Bike Parade
Friday, May 6 | 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Calling all cyclists for an Art Blossoms bike parade! Bring your own bicycle or check one out from Blue Bike SC, then decorate your whip with provided floral craft supplies. Once your bike is covered from bells to pedals, hop on and join the petal parade from Boyd Plaza to Hampton-Preston Gardens and the newly opened Boyd Foundation Horticultural Center. Enjoy a guided tour with Historic Columbia before parading back to the CMA to explore Art Blossoms and enjoy jarcuterie and drinks.
Bringing your own bike is highly encouraged. Limited quantity of Blue Bikes on site with more Blue Bike stations nearby. Petal parade guided by a trained bike guide and escorted by Columbia Police Department. All craft materials, tours at Hampton-Preston Gardens, entry into Art Blossoms, one adult beverage (nonalcoholic for those under 21), and jarcuterie are included with your ticket. In partnership with Blue Bike SC and Historic Columbia. Cash bar. Ages 15 and up. No unaccompanied minors. $40 / $32 for members.
Art Class: Botanical Illustration
Saturday, May 7 | 10:00 a.m. – Noon
Use live botanicals to create your own scientific illustration showcasing the beauty of nature with inspiration from the arrangements in Art Blossoms. Taught by Laurel Steckel Archie. Ages 15 and up. All materials and equipment provided. $60 / $48 for members.
Art Class: Botanical Printmaking
Saturday, May 7 | 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Take inspiration from nature to create prints using found foliage and flora. Taught by local artist Lee Monts, who creates spontaneous compositions through various mediums. Represented by City Art since 2011, Monts mainly produces abstracted landscapes but also enjoys printmaking with botanical material from his garden. Ages 15 and up. All supplies and equipment provided. $50 / $40 for members.
Creative Yard and Garden Design with Jenks Farmer
Saturday, May 7 | 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Whether you’re getting your hands dirty for the first time or looking to finally take on that neglected corner of the yard, Renaissance plantsman and former director of Riverbanks Botanical Garden Jenks Farmer is here to inspire with fresh ideas and creative ways to design your home garden. From simple ideas to big-budget makeovers, learn how Farmer approaches design to transform even the smallest space into a garden that can feed body and soul. Stick around after the talk for a chance to buy Farmer’s latest book, Crinum, and snag a signature from the author himself. Entry to Art Blossoms and one beverage from Azalea Coffee Bar included in registration. Cash bar. $35 / $28 for members.
Born into a family of artists, musicians, and farmers, Augustus Jenkins Farmer III fell in love with the natural world early in his childhood and went on to pursue a formal education in plant and environmental sciences at Clemson University and botanical garden design at the University of Washington. For the last 20 years, Farmer has led teams responsible for establishing two of South Carolina’s major botanical gardens. His designs for homes, museums, and businesses have received recognition and awards and have delighted hundreds of thousands of visitors with the joyful, easy exuberance of hand-crafted gardens. An avid writer, Farmer has been publishing since 1990. As the former director of Riverbanks Botanical Garden and founding horticulturist of Moore Farms Garden, Farmer has a true talent and passion for inspiring people of all ages and from all walks of life to go outside and get their hands dirty.
T’Wine & Design
Saturday, May 7 | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Let your creativity bloom as you build a floral arrangement! Floral designer and artist Dave Robbins of Woodley’s Garden Center shows guests how to design a unique arrangement and how to create designs with clippings from your own yard, all while sipping fun floral refreshments. Registration required as space is limited. Ages 21 and up. One beverage included with ticket. Cash bar. All floral supplies and equipment provided. $60 / $48 for members.
Art Blossoms Brunch
Sunday, May 8 | 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Have brunch on beautiful Boyd Plaza or in the CMA Reception Gallery and enjoy botanically inspired cocktails and a decadent brunch buffet from Southern Way Catering during this creative dining experience. Don’t miss this chance to gather with your family and friends for a perfect Mother’s Day in the springtime air. Choose between a 10:30 a.m. seating or a 1:00 p.m. seating. Ticket includes a welcome beverage, brunch buffet, and access to the CMA galleries to see more than 20 arrangements interpreting works of art in beautiful florals. Cash bar. Individual tickets: $85 / $75 for members. Table for 8: $630 / $550 for members.