The North Carolina Museum of Art

Museum Park

Works of Art

The Museum Park art program facilitates collaborations among artists, designers, and environmental scientists to create works of art inspired by the natural world. Artists are commissioned by the Museum to create site-specific temporary and permanent works that directly engage the landscape and present new perspectives on the natural world, exploring our relationship to the environment and the role of nature in contemporary society.

Wind Machine

Vollis Simpson
Vollis Simpson, Wind Machine, 2002, steel and other media, H. 30 x L. 30 x D. 15 ft., Commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art with funds from the William R. Roberson Jr. and Frances M. Roberson Endowed Fund for North Carolina Art, © 2009 Vollis Simpson

A World War II veteran, Simpson built his first wind machine, as a power source, while stationed on the island of Saipan. He started creating kinetic sculptures out of found objects when he retired in 1985 in eastern North Carolina. Made of discarded parts from cars, trucks, bicycles, farm machinery, streetlights, and highways signs, Simpson’s whirligigs transform cast-off, everyday objects and industrial materials into whimsical wind machines.


Thomas Sayre
Thomas Sayre, Gyre, 1999, three ellipses of concrete, colored with iron oxide, reinforced with steel, and mottled with dirt residue from earth casting, H. 24 ft. 6 in. x W. 22 ft. x L. 150 ft., Gift of Artsplosure, City of Raleigh, and various donors, © 2009 Thomas H. Sayre

This monumental sculpture was created on-site by North Carolina artist Thomas Sayre. A backhoe was used to dig three elliptical trenches that were filled with concrete and steel bars. After the concrete curves cured for a month, a crane lifted the rings from the ground and lowered them into their existing location. The title Gyre refers to a circular or spiraling motion—gyration—and a spiraling shape, like a vortex or tornado.


Steed Taylor
Steed Taylor, Invasive, 2008, high-gloss latex paint, various dimensions, Museum commission funded by the John Rex Endowment through the Physical Activity Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health, © 2009 Steed Taylor

Steed Taylor’s temporary “road tattoos” are painted on sidewalks, trails, and streets and eventually disappear as the paint is worn away by weather and traffic. With the help of 45 community volunteers, the artist painted a road tattoo over 1,000 feet in length on the paved trails of the Museum Park. The design for Invasive is based on 18th-century European floral fabric patterns and contemporary tattoo designs. Before the final pattern was painted, names of invasive plants were written within the outlines of the design and then painted over, a symbolic act of containment.

Lowe's Pavilion

Mike Cindric and Vincent Petrarca
Mike Cindric and Vincent Petrarca, Lowe’s Pavilion, 2007, steel, wood, aluminum, and concrete, Major funding for this project was provided by the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation.

Designed and built specifically for this site by an artist and a designer who both live and work in Raleigh, N.C., this “art-as-shelter” project blends easily into its natural surroundings. The perforated, metallic skin of the pavilion, inspired by the transparent quality of a dragonfly’s wings, changes with the time of day and the quality of light—reflecting its natural surroundings and taking on the colors of the trees, grass, and sky—or nearly disappearing into a shimmering pattern of light and shadow.

Crossroads/Trickster I

Martha Jackson-Jarvis
Martha Jackson-Jarvis, Crossroads/Trickster 1, 2005, brick, steel mortar, glass tile, and stone, H. 20 ft. x Diam. 23 in., Commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art with funds from Wachovia Bank and the North Carolina Department of Transportation Enhancement Program, © 2009 Martha Jackson-Jarvis

This sculpture marks the intersection of two trails in the Park and combines Italian glass tiles, carnelian stones, and shattered bricks to create a densely patterned, textured mosaic surface. The artist has described her use of the prison bricks (recycled from the Polk Youth Correctional Facility, located on this property from 1920 to 1997) as “time capsules,” a way of creating a new work of art that speaks to the historical significance of this place.

Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky

Chris Drury
Chris Drury, Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky, 2003, stone, wood, and turf, approx. Diam. 12 ft., Commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest), © 2009 Chris Drury

This shelter operates as an oversized camera obscura or a pinhole camera. A small aperture in the roof projects an inverted image of the sky onto the floor of the chamber, an effect that seems to pull the sky down to the viewer. Inside, one’s perspective is turned upside down. Instead of looking up at the sky, trees, or clouds, one looks down on them from above.


Barbara Kruger, Henry Smith-Miller, Laurie Hawkinson, and Nicholas Quennell
Barbara Kruger, Henry Smith-Miller, Laurie Hawkinson, and Nicholas Quennell, PICTURE THIS/Museum Park Theater, designed 1992–94, constructed 1994–97

The Museum’s outdoor stage and amphitheater is a large-scale environmental work of art and the result of a unique collaboration by an artist, architects, and a landscape architect. Giant letters spell out PICTURE THIS and are sculpted in various materials, covering over 2½ acres, including the Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater, seating elements, and a film screen. Many of the sculptural letters incorporate text that focuses on specific references to the history, culture, and landscape of North Carolina.

Park Pictures

Various Artists
Noelle Casimo, Reclaimed, 2013, digital print on vinyl, © 2013 Noelle Casimo
Eric Pickersgill, Outlet, 2011/2013, digital print on vinyl, © 2013 Eric Pickersgill
SAVVY (St. Augustine’s Visually Vibrant Youth), Expensive Tastes, 2013, digital print on vinyl, © 2013 SAVVY (St. Augustine’s Visually Vibrant Youth)

Park Pictures, large-scale outdoor pictures in three locations along the House Creek Greenway Trail, are changed annually to feature different artists. We invited college students from around the state to submit images and ideas for their own billboards, dealing with themes of excess and commercialism to tie to the exhibition Brian Ulrich: Copia. Three artists were selected: Noelle Casimo (Elon University), Eric Pickersgill (UNC–Chapel Hill), and SAVVY, a student collective (St. Augustine’s College). Their works will be on view in the Museum Park through spring 2014.

The presentation of this work at the NCMA is part of an ongoing series of outdoor art projects, Art Has No Boundaries, to encourage visitors to actively explore the Museum Park, and made possible by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

I Remember Fireflies

Allison Hunter
Allison Hunter, 
I Remember Fireflies, 2012, stop-motion animation video with sound, mini-video projector, speaker, painted wood, clay and wire figures, LED lights, wire mesh, glass, dried leaves, and rear-screen projection material, Courtesy of the artist

Inspired by childhood memories, Houston-based artist Allison Hunter’s installation reimagines insects in a safe habitat, undergoing their life cycle to the tune of Mildred Bailey’s 1940s standard “At Sundown.” Threatened in real life by light pollution and urban sprawl, fireflies thrive here as clay figurines, shielded and highlighted for the viewer.

This work, made possible by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, is part of an ongoing series of outdoor art projects, Art Has No Boundaries, commissioned by the NCMA to encourage visitors to actively explore the Museum Park.

A Closer Look: Trailmarkers

Tim Purus
Tim Purus, illustrations from A Closer Look, 2010, etched aluminum, NCMA

Fun for kids and adults alike, A Closer Look features 12 metal plaques installed along the paths and trails, each with an illustration of animals and plants native to North Carolina. They were designed as reliefs so that visitors may create rubbings of the image using a crayon and paper. The Museum commissioned Tim Purus, a New York–based graphic designer, to create all 12 illustrations for A Closer Look.

A self-guided art and nature walk featuring the trailmarkers is available for kids and adults.

This project is part of the Active Community and Neighborhood grant program funded by the John Rex Endowment through the Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health.

Collapse I,

Ledelle Moe
Ledelle Moe, Collapse I, 2000, L. 30 x W. 12 x H. 9 ft., concrete and steel, Courtesy of the artist, © 2009 Ledelle Moe
Ledelle Moe, Untitled, 2007, L. 9 x H. 6 x W. 8 ft., concrete and steel, Courtesy of the artist, © 2009 Ledelle Moe

South African artist Ledelle Moe works in steel and concrete to create larger-than-life figurative sculptures. Collapse I sprawls across the top of a ridge in the Museum Park, a massive human form lying on its side, a monument that has toppled over. Untitled sits along the trail deeper in the woods, a boulderlike form of a human figure curled into a ball. The sculptures resemble natural outcroppings of rock formations and provoke questions about history, monumentality, permanence, and fragility.

Whisper Bench

Jim Gallucci
Jim Gallucci, Whisper Bench, 2008, painted steel, each bench H. 4 x W. 4 x D. 4 ft., Purchased by the Volunteers of the North Carolina Museum of Art in honor of dedicated service by volunteers and in memory of Emily S. Rosen (1958–2007),, © 2009 Jim Gallucci

Based in Greensboro, N.C., Jim Gallucci uses painted steel and architectural forms to create interactive works of art. Located on either side of a trail, the two sections of Whisper Bench are linked by a hidden sound pipe that allows visitors to whisper messages back and forth while sitting on opposite sides of the path.


Workingman Collective: Tom Ashcraft, Janis Goodman, Peter Winant

This installation includes 15 birdhouses and related signage to provide a habitat for the three species of songbirds hardest hit by the West Nile virus: the eastern bluebird, Carolina chickadee, and downy woodpecker. Mission addresses issues of habitat, attraction, inventory, environment, and migration specific to this region. It also speaks to a broader social context and human impact on the natural world.

Benches, bike racks, and signage

Al Frega

Artist Alvin Frega, who lives and works in Durham, N.C., created a series of art-in-service elements for the Museum Park, including benches, bicycle racks, and a signage system, incorporating metal bars and other materials he recycled from the former prison that once occupied this site. Frega’s functional works of art both preserve and retell the story of a site layered with history.