Members of a yoga class stretch outside in Boyd Plaza. Some classes meet inside the museum. (Courtesy of the Columbia Museum of Art/Carolina News and Reporter)

A plethora of paintings, sculptures and other art cover the walls and the floor inside of the Columbia Museum of Art. 

But there’s something else going on within the walls of the museum.

The organization hosts events inside its venue and rents out its space to paying customers.

“We have a lot of weddings and a lot of corporate partnerships,” said Dana Witkoski, the museum’s engagement specialist. “You can throw a party here if you want. It makes us money, and you get a good backdrop for your photos.”

Anyone can rent out the museum for any purpose for events under three hours at rates from $500 to $3,000, depending on the area of the museum being used. Events that last longer than four hours start at $400 and range up to $4,000.

The museum has rooms to rent out on the first and second floor. It also allows people to rent out parts of Boyd Plaza, the large courtyard at the corner of Main and Hampton streets.

“Our rentals are helpful and give us a source of income, like any other building with a lot of usable space,” said Wilson Bame, engagement manager.

The museum, which moved to Main Street in 1998, has been renting out its space regularly since 2017 and plans to keep doing so, Bame said.

Yoga classes, art classes, summer camps and many more events and programs now generate a new source of revenue. 

Most events involve selective community interests or public wellness, Witkoski said.

“A lot of the programs I do are revenue generating, but they are also mission centered,” Witkoski said. 

The art museum’s total revenue in 2022 was $4.7 million, and its expenses were $4.5 million, according to the museum’s annual report

The majority of that revenue came from public appropriation and donors. Grants only made up 6% of the total. 

Grants are competitive and come from the federal National Endowment for Arts.

Bame said that most of the organization’s revenue comes from admission tickets sold and fees paid by groups renting the space.

The museum, for example, was the site of a string quartet concert Oct. 3 in one of its galleries. 

“That will go towards our annual budget to help pay for events and keep the lights on,” Bame said.

An event calendar on the museum’s website details upcoming events each month. This month’s offerings include two LGBTQ events: Drag Bingo and Tour & Tasting: The Art of Drag.

Members can pay a lower price for admission.

Witkoski soon hopes to host accessible yoga at the museum, offering a space for people with disabilities to exercise, she said. 

The museum is actively seeking bookings throughout the rest of this year and into the next.

Boyd Plaza, which hosts outdoor community events (Photo by Chris Newman/Carolina News and Reporter)

The museum, with its large, airy rooms, is a popular destination for weddings. (Courtesy of the Columbia Museum of Art/Carolina News and Reporter)