Perhaps it was because they
got an early jump on the competition when in 1947 the North Carolina
General Assembly put aside a million dollars in state funds to buy
works of art. It was the first state in the country to use public
funds to buy art and it may have been the best million dollars the
state ever spent. With the money they bought 139 European and American
paintings and sculpture. In 1960 the Samuel H. Kress Foundation
donated 75 works of art. In April of 1956 the museum opened in a
converted state office building in downtown Raleigh and moved to
its present location on Blue Ridge Road on April 5, 1983.
The Museum’s collection contains over 5,000 pieces of art. Works in the
galleries are continuously rotated, due to the loaning of art to other
institutions as well as for the conservation and preservation of works of
art. Along with the permanent collection the museum plays hosts to traveling
exhibits of such well known artists as Matisse,
Picasso and the School of Paris, Toulouse-Lautrec, Ansel Adams,
Rodin, and others.
The North Carolina Museum of Art is perhaps best known
nationally and internationally for its outstanding European collection,
which includes works by masters of
European painting and sculpture, from the Renaissance through impressionism. The
collection includes works by Giotto, Sandro Botticelli, Raphael, Anthony van
Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens, Antonio Canova, Claude Monet and others.
The Museum’s Modern Gallery
features major works by such American artists as Marsden Hartley, Georgia
O'Keeffe, Franz Kline, Frank Stella, John Biggers, Jacob Lawrence and Thomas
Hart Benton, and by modern European masters including Ernst Ludwig Kirchner,
Paul Delvaux, Henry Moore, Anselm Kiefer and Gerhard Richter.
The African Gallery contains many
works of African art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Although most of the
objects in the collection are made of wood, many are made of terracotta, beads,
cast metals, textiles and ivory. The Ancient Collection includes two
Egyptian coffins and other funerary art. The collection also contains important
examples of Greek and Roman sculpture and vase painting. A nearby gallery of American Art from
the 18th and 19th Centuries features paintings by John Singleton Copley, Thomas
Cole, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins and William Merritt Chase.
The Ancient American Gallery
presents works from the ancient civilizations of Mexico, South America and
Central America. Works from Mesoamerica, Peru and Costa Rica include ceramic and
terracotta sculptures, stones and painted vases from the 6th to the 11th
century. The Museum contains one of only two galleries in the country devoted to Jewish ceremonial art. Many works in the
collection are made of precious materials such as silver, gold and ivory. Works
in the collection span from the 18th to the 20th century. The Oceanic Gallery features works
from island cultures in the Pacific. Oceanic art is made from a wide variety of
natural materials including wood, stone, bone, feathers, textiles, fibers, seeds
The Blue Ridge, the
Museum Restaurant, offers diners both great visual arts and great culinary art.
Eclectic fare ranges from salads, sandwiches and entrees at lunch to sumptuous
weekend brunches. From savory soups to sweet desserts. For reservations, call (919) 664-6838.
The summertime means great outdoor entertainment at the North Carolina Museum of
Art. From mid-May through mid-September, the Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater in
the Museum Park is the place to be for the best in live music from around the
world. The list of performers is impressive and the setting makes seeing any
concert here a memorable one. Their Rodin Exhibit brought about
the reunion of local favorites Arrogance
(photo) and in 2005 they hosted concerts by Steve
Earle, Lucinda Williams
and award-winning Celtic group Dervish. Their Sights
and Sounds on Sundays series, a cooperative venture of the North Carolina Museum of Art and the
Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, features some of the most exciting performers in
the region. And there’s nothing like the “Movies on the Lawn” series, or the popular
Music/Movie Combos. Bring the kids and a picnic, and explore the Museum Park
before the show.
The North Carolina Museum of Art is accessible to everyone, and arrangements can
be made for guided tours for visitors with disabilities.
Admission to the Museum and its permanent collection is free. There is a charge
for special exhibitions and some programs, such as concerts, films, classes and
performances. For more information, call the Box Office at (919) 715-5923. The
North Carolina Museum of Art is at 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607-6494.
The easiest way to find it is to get on Interstate 40 and get off at exit
289 toward Raleigh and Wade Ave. Follow Wade Ave. to the Blue Ridge Rd.
exit, and take this exit. Turn left onto Blue Ridge Rd. The Museum is on the
right. Look for a large granite marker with flags. For more information visit the
Carolina Museum of Art website.