Reimagining the People’s Collection

/ November 4, 2021
Today, I’m excited to announce a major reinstallation of the North Carolina Museum of Art’s superb art collection, the People’s Collection, for the fall of 2022. The reimagined presentation, the first complete reorganization since the opening of West Building in 2010, will showcase new thematic and interpretive art galleries across East and West buildings. This reinstallation of artworks connects the collection across place and time; features major loans from North Carolina and national and international museums; and showcases new, site-specific commissioned works, providing a more dynamic and accessible experience of the arts.

The year 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of the North Carolina legislature’s setting aside state funds to start the People’s Collection, which belongs to the citizens of our state. This transformative reinstallation expands upon that commitment to welcome visitors from around the state, the country, and the world into a museum that works to transparently capture our shared histories and pushes forward to interrupt preconceptions of how art should be presented.

The reimagined presentation seeks to broaden the representation, narratives, and media within the galleries. Visitors will be able to learn national and global histories through works of art and better understand cultures that were and are diverse and interconnected. Accessible design and innovative interpretive strategies and technologies will provide tools for visitors to engage with the collection in a more personalized, meaningful way.

The Museum curators’ collaborative vision was developed with input from 11 global consultants, including Maryan Ainsworth, curator emerita of northern Renaissance painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Amanda Cachia, critic and curator of disability activism and accommodation; Julie Levin Caro, professor of art history and department chair at Warren Wilson College; Adrienne L. Childs, art historian and adjunct curator, The Phillips Collection; Nancy Strickland Fields, director, Museum of the Southeast American Indian, University of North Carolina at Pembroke; Salah M. Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History, Cornell University; Laurence B. Kanter, chief curator and Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art at Yale University Art Gallery and adjunct instructor in the Yale Department of the History of Art; Ilona Katzew, curator and department head of Latin American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Karen Kramer, curator of Native American and Oceanic art and culture, Peabody Essex Museum; Dr. Irma McClaurin, CEO of Irma McClaurin Solutions, anthropologist, award-winning writer, founder of the Black Feminist Archive, and past president of Shaw University; and Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Distinguished Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University.

As our chief curator, Linda Dougherty, has said, “We are working to ensure visitors see themselves represented in the works of art, and feel welcomed into the natural spaces and programs on our campus. The reinstallation will highlight the continued relevance of the People’s Collection and offer insights into specific periods, cultures, and artistic careers, celebrating the stories found in our collection.”

East Building’s art galleries will close January 3, 2022, at the start of construction; its exhibition level, studio and performing arts spaces, and East Café will remain accessible to visitors throughout the project. West Building will close to the public starting June 1, 2022.

During this time several special exhibitions will go on view. Organized by the NCMA and on view April 2–July 17, 2022, Fault Lines: Art and the Environment highlights contemporary artists’ responses to current environmental concerns through an immersive, multimedia exhibition and outdoor sculpture installations. Fault Lines includes works by artists John Akomfrah, Olafur Eliasson, Christine and Margaret Wertheim, Allison Janae Hamilton, and LaToya Ruby Frazier. It is joined by free exhibitions PARTICIPATE: Activate the Senses (December 18, 2021–July 3, 2022), TO BE RATHER THAN TO SEEM (April 2–July 17, 2022), Container/Contained: Phil Freelon Design Strategies for Telling African American Stories (February 26–May 15, 2022), and The Altered Environment (March 12–August 28, 2022). More information can be found at ncartmuseum.org/exhibitions.

All reimagined galleries will be on view and celebrated with a slate of events starting in October 2022, which will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater in the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. Alongside the reopening the Museum will also feature three special exhibitions that spotlight groundbreaking collections, both globally and locally. Also starting in October, A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from The Phillips Collection—a ticketed exhibition sharing a selection of the most iconic works from America’s first museum of modern art—will go on view, featuring artists Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Wassily Kandinsky, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, and more. The Museum will also present exhibitions featuring contemporary Latin American and African American art that highlights a promised gift from a North Carolina private collection and videos and costumes on African masquerade in North Carolina that relate to masquerade works in the NCMA’s African collection.

We look forward to welcoming you to your reimagined collection next fall, and in the meantime, we’ll share news about the project as it arises. More information about the reinstallation is available at ncartmuseum.org/PeoplesCollection. This site will continue to be updated with information as it is finalized, including loans of artworks to be displayed, partnerships, and reopening events.

Valerie Hillings
Valerie Hillings is director of the North Carolina Museum of Art.

6 thoughts on “Reimagining the People’s Collection”

  1. As a docent @ the NCMA, I am very excited about the re-installation. Applause to our director, deputy director, curators & staff for this challenging re-installation.

  2. I am delighted to learn about this! It reminds me that I need to visit the museum on a more regular basis–inside and outside. Thank you, Ms. Hillings, for continuing the excellent leadership of this wonderful museum.

  3. NCMA- Grateful for your collaborative visionary spirit and Really looking forward to participating in this adventure with my family!!

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