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Brosius to Leave Columbia Museum of Art for New Philanthropic Opportunity- Search Firm to Be Hired

Columbia, S.C. – Columbia Museum of Art Executive Director Karen Brosius informed board members and staff today of her acceptance of the president position with a national nonprofit organization in early 2017.

“It has been wonderful working here in South Carolina and with the talented staff at the CMA,” says Brosius. “I love this museum and this community. Together, our collective team has achieved many great accomplishments, so I leave secure in the incredible future this organization has ahead of it.”

Under Brosius’ 12-year leadership, the CMA has transformed into a vibrant, essential institution and a jewel in the cultural life of Columbia and the State of South Carolina. Her vision gave rise to a dramatic increase in landmark exhibitions, signature art works and major collections, family-friendly programming, arts education outreach and innovation, and state and national renown. She stabilized finances early on, more than doubled the museum’s annual budget, and tripled its endowment. This year, the museum received accolades as the recipient of the 2016 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Arts Award in South Carolina- the only museum to have ever won this award twice- as well as the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, America’s highest honor given to a museum and awarded at the White House in June. 

“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.”

As the CMA’s executive director, Brosius has brought great dynamism to the museum after its relocation to Main Street in 1998 and championed the creativity and vision that are the hallmarks of all of the museum’s activities. She has been widely recognized for her achievements in Columbia including receiving the Chairman’s Award from City Center Partnership, the Excellence in Community Leadership Award from the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Palmetto Center for Women Award for service to the community, and the Woman of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of the Congaree, among others, and for her board leadership in civic and cultural organizations across the city and state. 

Her career at the CMA culminates in the achievement of a successful five-year capital campaign – the first one since the museum moved into its new Main Street location – an important next step for the museum to strengthen its future and fund new initiatives and renovation plans, which will begin in 2017.

“As we have reached our campaign objectives with great support from the community, the museum is well-poised for unveiling its next exciting phase, which centers around three main goals: meet the growing demand of our audience through expansion of the galleries and education spaces, transform the museum through strategic projects meant to make a difference for our audience and community, and strengthen our financial core through the crucial growth of our endowment and the stability it provides in perpetuity,” says Brosius.  

The CMA has flourished into an organization that gives back to its community in many ways and welcomes people from around the state and country as well as from overseas. The museum currently generates more than $23 million in economic activity annually and supports more than 370 jobs in the Columbia area alone, according to findings in its most recent independent impact study.

“Karen leaves us with much love and respect for the way she has grown and transformed the CMA into a gem in Columbia and cornerstone of activity and community engagement in the Midlands,” says CMA board chair Scott R. McClelland. “She has made an extraordinary difference in the arts, cultural, and education community in South Carolina. She has achieved amazing things for us here at the CMA and I’m sure will be an incredible asset in her new role.”

The CMA board will hire a search firm with expertise in the arts and anticipates selecting a firm and starting the search process in the first quarter of 2017.

“We’re going to take the right amount of time to identify the candidate who will lead the next chapter in the CMA’s future and continue to expand our offerings and engage people in loving art and its role in a vibrant, healthy community,” says McClelland.

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