If you’re fond of art museums you will definitely feel the love for the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) that’s located in Raleigh, North Carolina. On the other hand, if you’re not big on art museums but give NCMA a chance, you’ll likely have a reaction that is also “not big;” “Wow!”
Museums in general can sometimes give off an aura of being pretentious and stuffy, or too highbrow for the average person. That is not the case at NCMA, where the first thing a museum-goer will notice is how bright and airy the galleries are. This is due not only to high tech lighting, but also to lots of big windows that put the North Carolina sunshine to work. You may or may not see these in action during your visit, but the windows have high tech shades that adjust automatically to let just the right amount of sun in at any given time; this maximizes the use of natural lighting while also protecting any sensitive art from taking on too many direct rays.
NCMA is quite large and the art is housed in two separate but adjoining buildings, the west building where you’ll find galleries displaying European, American, African, contemporary and modern, Egyptian, classical and Judaic art along with a sizable Rodin collection, and the three-level east building that houses more contemporary art, art of North Carolina and several galleries that showcase temporary exhibits.
The museum is well-stocked with priceless pieces, not the least of which are the 30 Rodin sculptures on display. Most of the Rodins live indoors, but the museum also has a wonderful Rodin Garden; both locations allow for sunlight to play off of the bronze sculptures, which is how they were meant to be seen. Another priceless item is found in the Egyptian art gallery; the handmade ceramic jar, at about 6,000-years-old, is also the museum’s oldest piece. And of course there are paintings throughout the museum that are as valuable as they are striking.
Visitors to the NCMA will also find lots of quirky art on display. There’s a sawfish headdress from Nigeria that must have been quite a chore to actually wear, a large display of hand-carved cement faces make up “Congregation,” a piece by South African artist Ledelle Moe, and one of musician Nick Cave’s oddball “soundsuits” is on display too.
NCMA is indeed a place that requires some time to see but the vibe is so welcoming that you’ll have no desire to rush, anyway. And if you do linger a while you don’t need to go hungry; in-house restaurant Iris has a very nice and reasonably-priced lunch menu where many of the offerings are made from locally-sourced ingredients.
For more information on the North Carolina Museum of Art go here.
For ideas on other fun things to do in Raleigh go here.
Help in planning a trip to North Carolina is here.