Columbia, SC – The Columbia Museum of Art will receive the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service at a White House ceremony hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. For 22 years, the National Medal has celebrated institutions that respond to societal needs in innovative ways, making a difference for individuals and families across generations. The award will be presented at a special ceremony at the White House on Thursday, June 1, to the five museums and five libraries chosen this year. The Columbia Museum of Art is the only art museum to receive this distinguished award in 2016.
“This year’s National Medal recipients show the transforming role of museums and libraries from educational destinations to full-fledged community partners and anchors,” says Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We are proud to recognize the extraordinary institutions that play an essential role in reaching underserved populations and catalyzing new opportunities for active local involvement.”
Community members whose lives have been inspired by these cultural and educational institutions will be highlighted during the White House ceremony. CMA Executive Director Karen Brosius and Board President Claude Walker have invited community supporter Joyce Rose-Harris to accompany them to the June 1 ceremony at the White House. “This medal honors the organization’s leaders as well as the communities we serve,” says Brosius. “For Joyce, Chicago museums were places of joy as a child. We at the CMA are honored to be a part of her lifelong journey through the arts.”
Joyce Rose-Harris grew up in the working-class neighborhood of North Lawndale in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother was dedicated to providing her with diverse cultural experiences outside of her neighborhood. “The Columbia Museum of Art is a place of comfort and takes me back to my childhood museum visits to the Art Institute of Chicago,” says Rose-Harris. “The size is smaller; however, every square inch of exhibit space is filled with just as much motivating, educational, and inspiring art. My craft is poetry; I am always ready to write after visiting the CMA.
“The board of trustees and I are so proud of the museum and its tireless staff for their commitment to community service and the advancement of arts education for all,” says CMA Board President Claude Walker. “This award shines a spotlight on the state of South Carolina, and Columbia in particular, as a vibrant, world-class hub for the arts and the creative community. Our collective efforts are paying dividends as we attract statewide and national recognition to the CMA as one of the nation’s most innovative leading arts institutions.”
The recipients of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service demonstrate impactful programs and services that exceed the expected levels of community outreach. They were selected from 150 nominations from across the country.
The museum’s board and staff thank Columbia City Council, Richland County Council, and the South Carolina General Assembly, whose leadership and support help make this impact possible. Deepest and heartfelt thanks are also extended to each of the museum’s community and educational partners, donors, members, volunteers, friends, and visitors.
As a thank you to the community, the CMA is hosting a celebration of both the National Medal and its receipt of the 2016 South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts, known as the Verner Award, on Saturday, June 4, from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Boyd Plaza. This is a free, family-friendly event featuring hands-on activities, gallery tours, scavenger hunts, and more. At noon, Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, Senator John E. Courson, and Richland County Council Chairman Torrey Rush will give remarks and the awards will be presented to the community. Admission to the museum and the exhibition Daufuskie Memories will be free all day on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After the ceremony, StoryCorps-a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans-will visit the CMA to document stories from the community.