We get that it can be difficult acting like a tourist in your own city, sometimes. Busy work schedules and activity-packed weekends make it challenging to find time to see things you’ve had on your list for ages. It happens to us pretty frequently, too, so last time we had a free day in Raleigh, we decided to spend it exploring the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA).
When you first arrive, you’ll likely park in one of the farther lots and be guided down a pathway past some impressive outdoor installations. Take some time to check them out; they’re truly awe-inspiring. Once you get up to the main entrance, you can choose between the East or West Buildings. In addition to displaying a permanent collection of art that spans more than 5,000 years of history, the NCMA presents a variety of celebrated special exhibitions. Both East and West buildings offer beautiful gallery spaces to showcase the extraordinary objects on view.
The East currently houses the African Gallery, Meymandi Exhibition Gallery, Joyce W. Pope Gallery, Julian T. Baker Photography Gallery and more. The West features the American Galleries, Classical Galleries, Modern and Contemporary Galleries, Egyptian Gallery and several others. Entrance to the museum is free (yes, you read that correctly), so it doesn’t really matter which you choose to visit first. You’ll have plenty of time to walk through both, and if you happen to spend a little too much time lingering in one spot, you can always come back and visit the exhibits you missed the first time around.
We began our self-guided tour in the West Building and were almost immediately greeted by a museum staff member, eager to help us navigate the space and answer questions. You’ll find team members on-hand throughout the museum, and we highly recommend talking with them to learn even more about the art and exhibitions.
We took our time walking through the rooms and past the stunning displays, and the modern and contemporary galleries really stood out for our group. It’s really something to see. After spending some time learning more about the classics and some art from the permanent exhibits, we concluded our visit of the West Building and made our way to our final stop of the day: The Park. (We knew we’d be back in the coming months for a tour of the East Building, and wanted to take advantage of the idyllic weather we had that day).
The Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park connects art, nature, and people to encourage creative experiences and human interactions. It features temporary and permanent public art installations by international artists, environmentally sustainable landscapes, colorful and contemporary gardens, miles of recreational trails, and a terraced pond. We rounded out our visit with a photo opp at the iconic trio of Gyre rings. You’ve likely seen snaps of these rings on Instagram before, but they’re even better in person.
If you haven’t picked up on it already, there’s a TON to do at the NCMA. Honestly, you could visit every weekend and still come back and see something new. That’s kind of the beauty of it all, and we love that the museum requires no admission fee - though, they do appreciate donations to help maintain the space. Once your visit, share some of your favorite pieces with us by tagging @lifestylecommunities on Facebook or Instagram. We’d love to see what resonated with you.