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Try This: Two immersive sculpture exhibitions at the Columbia Museum of Art

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“All The Flowers Are For Me (Turquoise)” by Anila Quayyum Agha. | Photo by the AVLtoday team

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Fun fact: The Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC hasn’t featured a sculpture show in quite some time, and now they have two. We got to check out these concurrent, contrasting exhibitionsRodin: Contemplation and Dreams / Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections and Anila Quayyum Agha: Let A Million Flowers Bloom — and, full disclosure, shed a tear or two before we left. Here’s a peek into our experience and how you can Try This.

What we tried:

The tour began with Rodin, ft. 43 sculptures consisting of thousands of pounds of bronze. Our guide, CMA Curator of Education Glenna Barlow, shared a wealth of knowledge about the pieces included, from the “Burghers of Calais” and “The Gates of Hell” to busts of Victor Hugo and Balzac.


Rodin intended for his sculptures to be displayed as close to the ground as possible so people could experience them in an accessible way. | Photo by the AVLtoday team

The Rodin exhibition comprises four of the six rooms in the CMA’s main exhibition gallery space, and Anila Quayyum Agha’s pieces take up the remaining two. Walking in and seeing her first piece, “This is NOT a Refuge!,” was a moving experience, and my tour group was equally (if not even more) blown away by her second installation, “All The Flowers Are For Me (Turquoise).”


“This is NOT a Refuge!” by Anila Quayyum Agha. | Photo by the AVLtoday team

Words and photos couldn’t possibly come close to experiencing this work in person.

What not to miss:

For the first time, the CMA will be offering Touch Tours for the Rodin exhibition, designed for visitors who are blind or partially sighted to be able to experience works of art in a whole new way.

These 90-minute tours take place on Mondays (when the galleries are closed to the general public) and can be scheduled with four weeks’ advance notice by calling 803-343-2163 or emailing tours@columbiamuseum.org. Bonus: Touch Tours are offered for free courtesy of Presenting Sponsor First Citizens Bank, which is also sponsoring free admission for K-12 students for the run of the show.

What we’re still talking about:

We weren’t exaggerating about shedding some tears during this tourAgha is an incredible speaker, and we were lucky to get to hear her reflect on the meaning behind her artwork. To get a sense of what we heard and felt, check out her episode of CMA’s Binder podcast.


The weightlessness of this piece ties into the Buddhist practice of trying to rise above. Asked Agha, “How can I be better?” | Photo by the AVLtoday team

How you can experience this:

Rodin: Contemplation and Dreams will be on view through Sun., May 15, 2022, and Anila Quayym Agha: Let A Million Flowers Bloom runs through Sun., May 29, 2022.

Visitors can check out both exhibitions during the museum’s regular hours or during special events like First Thursday on Main (Thurs., April 7) or Arts & Draughts (Fri., April 22). We’re also looking forward to slowing down and getting mindful at Meditation Monday on April 11.

Things to know if you go:

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