The year 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of the North Carolina legislature setting aside state funds to start the People’s Collection. To further that commitment, the Museum will begin a transformative reinstallation of its East and West buildings, offering a more dynamic experience of the arts for all through newly conceived thematic and interpretive galleries that connect the collection across place and time. The first complete reorganization since the opening of West Building in 2010, it will feature major loans from North Carolina and from national and international museums. New, site-specific commissioned works will also be on view, alongside visitor favorites presented in new ways.
Learn more from Director Valerie Hillings in the video on this page. Check in for updates in the coming months on gallery renderings, loans, community partnerships, staff interviews, behind-the-scenes blog posts, reopening events, and more.
Park, Events, and Exhibitions During Closure
During this time the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park remains open daily, dawn to dusk. The Museum will continue to present its annual outdoor film and concert season, as well as programming throughout the Park and in East Building. Several special exhibitions will be on view in East Building, including Fault Lines: Art and the Environment, an immersive exhibition highlighting contemporary artists’ responses to present environmental concerns, and Becoming the NCMA: 10 Decades of Collecting, 1924–2022, featuring visitor favorites and rarely seen treasures from The People’s Collection.
Learn more about all the ways to enjoy our campus this summer below.
Project Timeline and Gallery Closures
- January 3, 2022: East Building exhibition level, studio and performing arts spaces, and East Café remain open, and featured works from our African arts collection go on view in West Building; East Building collection galleries go off view to begin construction
- April and May 2022: Rolling closures of some West Building galleries; Judaic, Rodin, Italian, Dutch and Renaissance, and Modern and Contemporary galleries and a selection of works from the African arts collection will remain on view through May 29, 2022
- May 29, 2022: West Building closes to the public
- October 8, 2022: Reopening celebration, details to be announced
As we close West Building for the reimagining of the People's Collection, we want to ensure North Carolinians and visitors can access as much art as possible between now and the October reopening. Visit all of the special exhibitions below for FREE this summer:
- Through July 17: Fault Lines: Art and the Environment, which features 14 contemporary artists’ response to current environmental issues and related exhibition TO BE RATHER THAN TO SEEM
- Through July 31: The Altered Environment, showcasing landscape photography from the Museum collection that explores how we shape the natural world
- June 11 through August 21: Becoming the NCMA: 10 Decades of Collection, 1924-2022, featuring favorites and rarely seen treasures from the Museum collection
- Opening August 20: Outlandish: Photographs by Ralph Burns | Photographs from Allen G. Thomas Jr., including photography that explores the peculiarities of human expression
Snacks and Sips
In East Building, East Café remains open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm.
Outside, the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park is open daily from dawn to dusk. The 25th anniversary Outdoor Performing Arts and Film season, presented by First Citizens Bank, continues through October with concerts, dance performances, outdoor movies, and more.
Events and Programs
Our campus stays alive with family tours, studio programs, group exercise classes, Mindful Museum programming, and more.
The Museum curators’ collaborative vision for this reinstallation was developed with input from 11 diverse global consultants.
Maryan Ainsworth, curator emerita of Northern Renaissance painting, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Amanda Cachia, critic and curator of disability activism and accommodation
Julie Levin Caro, professor of art history and department chair, Warren Wilson College
Adrienne L. Childs, art historian and adjunct curator, The Phillips Collection
Nancy Strickland Fields, director, Museum of the Southeast American Indian, UNC 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, Yale University Art Gallery, and adjunct instructor, Department of the History of Art, Yale University
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
Irma McClaurin, CEO of Irma McClaurin Solutions, anthropologist, award-winning writer, founder of the Black Feminist Archive, and past president of Shaw University
Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Distinguished Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University
All reimagined galleries will be on view and celebrated with a slate of events on October 8 and 9, 2022.
Alongside the reinstallation the Museum will feature three special exhibitions that spotlight groundbreaking collections, both globally and locally. A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from The Phillips Collection will share a selection of the most iconic works from the first museum of modern art in the US—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 from a North Carolina private collection and costumes and videos on African masquerade in North Carolina that relate to masquerade works in the NCMA’s African collection.
The Mandell Foundation offers generous support for the Museum’s special collection of Judaic ceremonial art.
History of the People’s Collection
The Museum’s history began in 1924, when the North Carolina State Art Society was formed. Its mission: to generate interest in creating an art museum for the state. In 1928 the society acquired funds and approximately 75 paintings by bequest from Robert F. Phifer, a North Carolina native and businessman.
In 1947 the state legislature appropriated $1 million to purchase a collection of art for the people of North Carolina. The appropriation was unheard of at the time and drew national attention. It was used to purchase 139 European and American paintings and sculptures.
The Samuel H. Kress Foundation matched the $1 million appropriation with a gift of 70 works of art, primarily made during the Italian Renaissance. The Kress gift to the Museum was the largest and most important of any except that given to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The Museum’s original collection, along with the Kress gift, established the North Carolina Museum of Art as one of the premier art museums in the South.
In April 1956 the Museum opened in the renovated State Highway Division Building on Morgan Street in downtown Raleigh, the state’s capital. Local media dubbed it “the Miracle on Morgan Street.” It was the first art museum in the country to be established using state funds.
By the 1960s the Museum had outgrown its Morgan Street home. In 1967 the state legislature set out to choose a site and oversee construction of a new museum, landing on the current location on Blue Ridge Road. Designed by Edward Durell Stone and Associates of New York and Holloway-Reeves Architects of North Carolina, East Building opened in 1983. At 181,000 square feet, it was four times the size of the Morgan Street location and had twice the exhibition space.
West Building opened in 2010, creating more room to exhibit the Museum’s growing collection. With the exterior 50 percent glass, the 127,000-square-foot gallery space allowed for filtered natural light and viewing of the People’s Collection in a whole new way. Outside, West Building’s courtyards and the 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park expanded the traditional museum experience through site-specific, temporary, and permanent works of art visitors explore informally on trails and paths.
Highlights from the People’s Collection
The state’s art collection includes more than 4,200 objects and spans more than 5,000 years. It consists of major holdings in European painting from the Renaissance to the 19th century, Egyptian funerary art, sculpture and vase painting from ancient Greece, Italy, and Rome, American and ancient American art, global 20th- and 21st-century art, African art, and Jewish ceremonial objects. The 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park is home to more than two dozen monumental works of art, with artists actively involved in the restoration of the Park’s landscape and the integration of art into its natural systems.