Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, Appoints New Executive Director Della Watkins

The board of trustees of the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) in Columbia, SC, announces the appointment of Della Watkins as the new executive director. Watkins currently serves as the executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA.

“We heard it consistently from her current board and Mr. Taubman himself, one of Della’s greatest strengths is her engagement in the community,” says CMA Search Committee Chair Earl Ellis. “That was a very important factor in our consideration set. The Columbia Museum of Art is a community asset, and we were seeking a proven leader who had demonstrated strengths in community engagement.”

After 14 years of working as an art educator, Watkins began her career in museum education at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where she held successively more senior roles during her 16-year tenure. Watkins joined the Taubman Museum of Art in 2013. Under her leadership, the museum completed build-out of the last remaining gallery space that now hosts major national traveling exhibitions, reclaimed financial stability through steady fundraising, and forged new collegial partnerships in Roanoke and beyond to champion the region’s arts and culture community.

“After a thorough search process, selecting Watkins was a clear choice to lead this dynamic organization,” says CMA Board President R. Scott McClelland. “Her experience and passion allowed the search committee to check every box for leadership attributes essential to achieving the next step in the museum’s vision.”

Watkins officially takes the helm as executive director on October 1, 2017.

“With the completion of the renovation next year, the Columbia Museum of Art is poised to take an even greater leadership role as a vibrant local and statewide arts and education powerhouse,” says Watkins. “I look forward to working tirelessly to get to know the community, grow membership, friends, donors, business supporters, colleagues, and partners. Together, we’ll ensure that the CMA is a proud and lively cultural arts destination for everyone in South Carolina and beyond.”

The Columbia Museum of Art is a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning and community enrichment for all. Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, S.C., the CMA ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and creative educational programs. At the heart of the CMA and its programs is its collection, which encompasses 7,000 works and spans 5,000 years of art history. Established in 1950, the CMA now welcomes more than 150,000 visitors annually and is a catalyst for community creativity and education, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds. It is the recipient of a National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a National Art Education Association award for its contributions to arts education, a National Park Foundation Award, and two Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina.

To learn more, visit (www.columbiamuseum.org).

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