The North Carolina Museum of Art is an art museum in Raleigh, North Carolina which opened in 1956 as the first major museum collection in the country to be formed by State legislation and funding. The North Carolina Museum of Art is a museum where you can find your own place—either in contemplative spaces or through lively programming. The Museum’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the Southeast. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through monumental works of environmental art. The Museum offers changing national touring exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts, allowing you to create your own captivating experience each time you visit.
The Museum encompasses a collection that spans more than 5,000 years of artistic work from antiquity to the present, an amphitheater for outdoor performances, and a variety of celebrated exhibitions and public programs. The Museum features more than 40 galleries as well as more than a dozen major works of art in the nation’s largest museum park with 164-acres. One of the leading art museums in the American South, the NCMA recently completed a major expansion winning international acclaim for innovative approaches to energy-efficient design.
The museum’s permanent collection includes European paintings from the Renaissance to the 19th century, Egyptian funerary art, sculpture and vase painting from ancient Greece and Rome, American art of the 18th through 20th centuries, and international contemporary art. Other strengths include African, ancient American, pre-Columbian, and Oceanic art, and Jewish ceremonial objects.
The museum’s African collection originated in the 1970s with historical material from the 19th and 20th centuries, including important items from the Benin Kingdom. Later acquisitions expanded regional coverage to include other parts of sub-Saharan Africa with an eye toward assembling works that demonstrated a particular ethnic style, such as those of the Chokwe and Luba peoples of central Africa. Though much of the collection is rooted in traditional media such as wood, metal, and textiles and derives from established creative traditions, many works date from the mid-20th century and give insight into global exchanges that have taken place on the continent for centuries.
The museum’s American art collection encompasses paintings and sculpture from the late colonial period (mid-18th century) to the advent of modern art in the early 20th century. the collection addresses many of the themes and subjects of American art history, such as the celebration of wilderness and the search for a national identity; the conflicts over race, immigration, and social class; and the rapid evolution of society from Jefferson’s republic of farmers to Rockefeller’s industrial dynamo.
The ancient American collection features art from three distinct areas of the Western Hemisphere: Mesoamerica, Central America, and the Andes. The ancient American gallery focuses on Mesoamerica, particularly the art of the ancient Maya. Known for their achievements in science and the arts, the Maya dominated the region for most of two millennia. The museum’s collection reflects their religious beliefs, sport, ritual, and daily life.
Although comprising only 38 artifacts, the ancient Egyptian art collection at the North Carolina Museum of Art represents the major periods of ancient Egyptian history.
The museum’s strength lies in its European collection. Of the 139 paintings and sculptures purchased with the original appropriation of funds, 123 were European. When these paintings were augmented by the 75 primarily Italian paintings and sculptures given to the museum by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in 1961, they created a European collection that is recognized as one of the finest in the United States. The gallery is primarily a collection of paintings but also includes a number of noteworthy sculptures, including more than 30 bronzes by Auguste Rodin.
In recent years major acquisitions have helped build a significant collection of contemporary art. A concerted effort has been made to acquire works in new and experimental media. Cultural and regional representation has also been expanded, with the museum actively acquiring works by artists of diverse backgrounds.