William Calloway, executive director of the South Carolina State Museum has announced plans to step down as head of the institution in 2020.

A native of South Carolina, Calloway took the reigns of the museum in April 2002 after serving as executive director of Kellogg’s Cereal City USA in Battle Creek, MI, where he led the development, construction and operation of the $22 million startup museum. While at the State Museum Calloway directed museum operations and content, as well as setting and executing long-term strategic direction.

“The State of South Carolina has been blessed for the past 18 years with Willie’s diligence, dedication, and expertise in building and directing our State Museum into the treasure that it is,” said John McCabe, South Carolina State Museum Commission Chair. “His vision for the museum has always been steadfast and clear, and he will truly be missed.”

Under Calloway’s leadership, the museum completed the $23.5 million project Windows to New Worlds which expanded the facility to include one of the largest planetariums in the Southeast, a state-of-the-art observatory and the only permanent 4D theater in South Carolina. Windows to New Worlds went on to win 17 awards, including the South Carolina Governor’s Cup for Travel and Tourism and The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation’s Stewardship Award.

“When we brought Willie to South Carolina to serve as Executive Director, the goal was to take the museum to the next level by transforming it through, among other things, the Observatory, Planetarium and 4D Theater. That goal was achieved through Willie’s hard work and vision,” said Gray Culbreath, South Carolina State Museum Commission former chairman. “While there were external challenges over the years, Willie’s servant leadership transformed the Museum and its wonderful staff into the nationally known institution it is today.” 

Since Windows to New Worlds opened the State Museum has had more 170,000 guests and 67,000 school children each year. Calloway leads a team of more than 200, which includes volunteers, part-time and full-time staff and oversees a total annual budget of $8 million.

Thanks to these accomplishments Calloway was named by Columbia Business Monthly as one of the “50 Most Influential People” in 2014 and 2019 for his role in the museum’s expansion and continued growth. 

An active member of the museum community, Calloway serves as a re-accreditation site reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums and a grant reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. He also serves as a certified leader for the Mankind Project and is a member of the Midlands Business Leaders Group. 

“The leadership Willie has provided for the museum and foundation staff is impeccable; everyone involved with the museum is totally dedicated,” said Jed Suddeth, former South Carolina State Museum Foundation Chair. “This only happens with excellent leadership. I firmly believe Willie has laid a solid foundation for the museum’s future.”    

The State Museum has been a powerful force in South Carolina under Calloway, providing free general admission to South Carolina students and teachers, and showcasing and preserving South Carolina’s stories resulting in a $22 million economic impact for the State.

“While our building, our exhibits and our content are terrific; what brings it all to life for our visiting families and school groups are the people of the museum – the staff, the volunteers, the Museum Commission, the Foundation Board members, our donors, and our government supporters. What an incredible experience and joy it has been to serve with such passionate, dedicated and giving people,” Calloway said.