Spartanburg Art Museum's mission is to advance contemporary visual arts by inspiring and engaging diverse audiences through exhibitions and education.
Spartanburg Art Museum would like to acknowledge that our Museum is located on the traditional land and territory of the Cherokee people both past and present. The Cherokee Tribe was one of many in South Carolina displaced by the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Approximately 1000 Cherokee escaped the Trail of Tears by hiding, eventually becoming the modern Eastern Band of Cherokees located in Cherokee, North Carolina.
Spartanburg Art Museum is dedicated to making art accessible to all people in our community and beyond. We celebrate pluralism, a quality inherent within contemporary art. We strive topresent exhibitions, programs and educational offerings that reflect the broad expanse of what diversity looks like, which is to say the inclusion of national origin, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, disability, socio-economic backgrounds, and levels of education.
The Museum’s Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers are committed to champion policies and best practices that value diversity, foster equity, and empower an accessible and inclusive environment across of SAM’s programs and events. Our DEA&I Committee is working on the following goals for this fiscal year and beyond:
Access: help the community understand that SAM is their resource, a free institution providing the public with physical and intellectual access to its exhibitions and programs
Equity: help eliminate any perceived barriers from the public that prevent participation of all people and communities
Inclusion: help SAM develop and cultivate an environment where people feel supported, listened to, and valued
Diversity: help cultivate more diverse relationships through exhibitions, programs with community partnerships, donors, corporate sponsors, Art School students and visitors
Josephine Sibley Couper and Margaret Law, two prominent local artists, brought an exhibition of that era's contemporary art to Spartanburg. Featured in that exhibition was The Girl with Red Hair (1903) by Robert Henri, a well-known Ashcan School painter. Couper and Law sold 10- and 25-cent raffle tickets to Spartanburg citizens to raise the $500 to purchase Henri's painting. They were successful, and The Girl with Red Hair became the flagship piece of what would eventually become the Spartanburg Art Museum's Permanent Collection.
It is unclear when Josephine Sibley Couper and Margaret Law founded the Spartanburg Arts and Crafts Club. Our earliest record of the Club is a handmade meeting pamphlet dated 1923.
The Spartanburg County Art Association was formed by Nita Milliken and nine other community leaders. The SCAA opened a gallery, started the tradition of the Sidewalk Art Show, and began collecting works by local and regional artists.
Stewardship of the original collection of the Spartanburg Arts and Crafts Club—approximately 150 pieces of art—was granted to the Spartanburg Arts Council.
The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg was formed, and was granted stewardship of the Spartanburg Arts Council collection. TAPS gave the SAC collection to the care off the Spartanburg County Art Association, bringing the combined collection up to approximately 250 pieces of art.
The Spartanburg County Museum of Art moved its location from Spring Street to its new home in the Chapman Cultural Center, thus becoming the Spartanburg Art Museum.
Spartanburg Art Museum, under the leadership of Elizabeth Goddard, shifted its mission to reflect the original ideal of exhibiting the art of the current era, supporting living and working contemporary artists.
SAM's exhibition calendar boasts a diverse range of contemporary exhibitions and offers a wide variety of educational and community programs for all ages and demographics.