The North Carolina Museum of Art

Sacred Motherhood: Mother-and-Child Representations from the Permanent Collection

Primrose McPherson Paschal, Beulah's Baby, 1948, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in., North Carolina Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)

East Building, Level B, Free
May 4–December 7, 2014

Sacred Motherhood is an exhibition focused on 13 representations of mother and child from the Museum’s permanent collection, found in numerous cultures and spanning thousands of years—from ancient Egypt to the 21st century. The works of art in the exhibition are diverse and include artifacts, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photographs, and lithographs. One of the works is even an abstract painting. 

While the goddess Isis and the Virgin Mary are represented, the exhibition does not focus solely on holy or divine mothers; rather, it uncovers how artists treat motherhood itself as worthy of reverence and honor. Sacred Motherhood explores the symbolism behind the conspicuous representation of woman caring for child by placing each work in its historical and cultural context, and, as with more recent pieces, setting the subject of motherhood within the artist’s framework. Extended labels will provide this context for each of the works in the exhibition.

Many other works in the Museum’s collection fall within the scope of Sacred Motherhood. Visitors will be encouraged to continue their exploration of this theme in the permanent collection galleries of West Building.

Special Exhibition Tours

We are accepting reservation requests for guided tours for groups of 10 or more for Sacred Motherhood. Tuesdays–Sundays 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm. Please submit your request by phone or e-mail at least four weeks in advance.

Adult groups: Christine Molesky, e-mail or call (919) 664-6785

Student and youth groups: Jen Coon, e-mail or (919) 664-6820

One adult chaperon per 10 students required.

Tour-and-Lunch Package

Tour the exhibition at 10:30 am and enjoy lunch catered by Iris restaurant at 11:30 am. Free tour for adult groups of more than 10. Availability is limited; set menu. For reservations call (919) 664-6785 or send e-mail. Please make reservations at least four weeks in advance.