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October 2011

Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, Honors Ethel S. Brody & Leona Sobel with Exhibit

The Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, honors two sisters for their significant support of the Museum and lifelong commitment to art with an exhibition, A Tale of Two Sisters: Gifts from Ethel S. Brody and Leona Sobel, on view through Nov. 27, 2011.

“Their voracious love of art and keen eyes have significantly broadened the Museum’s collection,” executive director Karen Brosius said. “Families, children and art lovers will greatly benefit from their legacy for many decades to come.”

During more than 35 years of sustained giving to the Museum, Sobel and Brody have provided generous financial support toward museum exhibitions, object conservation and public programs, and have volunteered countless hours of research time. They have also played an active and integral role in shaping the growth of the permanent collection by donating objects and providing funds for the purchase of art. From Leona Sobel’s donation in 1976 of a Royal Doulton ewer to the recent acquisition of American photographer David Hilliard’s triptych from Ethel Brody, more than 175 works have been acquired through their generosity. Their donations represent all media and range from Old Master paintings to contemporary art.

A Tale of Two Sisters is a unique exhibition, in that it is installed museum-wide, showing visitors the depth and breadth of the sisters’ support for the collection. The majority of the exhibition is on view in Gallery 15, with additional works on display in the Garden Terrace and second floor atrium. To help visitors identify works acquired through the generosity of Sobel and Brody, a special logo has been designed and placed adjacent to the work throughout the collection galleries.

“We encourage visitors to look for the logo on their next visit to the Museum, and enjoy taking a ‘treasure hunt’ through the galleries, looking for objects acquired from Ethel and Leona,” curator of decorative arts, Brian Lang, said.

Born and raised in New York City, Ethel and Leona spent their early childhood surrounded by art and credit their mother with instilling them with their “good taste.” As for their love of museums, Ethel praises her aunt, “a real New Yorker,” who took the sisters to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as children. There, Ethel and Leona enjoyed “getting lost” in the galleries and traveling the world through the artwork on display. The sisters later moved to South Carolina-Ethel in 1947 following her marriage to Reuben Brody of Sumter, SC, and Leona in 1969 following her retirement as a swimwear buyer for Sears. From 1969 to 1979, the sisters owned and operated the Sign of the Salamander, a home goods and furnishing store in Myrtle Beach, SC, which carried goods gathered on their trips abroad. The sisters permanently moved to Columbia in 1980 and have been integrally involved with the Columbia Museum of Art since that time.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 803/799-2810 or visit (

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