Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park

Choose your own adventure in the Museum Park. Picnic with family and friends. Engage in bird watching on a trail. Walk, bike, or run on the Capital Area Greenway. Enjoy the beauty of native plants and sounds of wildlife in the midst of bustling Raleigh. Discover art, nature, and people through both self-guided and facilitated experiences. Get comfortable, linger, and belong.
The Museum Park features both permanent and temporary art installations, environmentally sustainable landscapes, colorful and contemporary gardens, 4.7 miles of recreational trails, and a terraced pond. To learn more about how we are always evolving, visit our 2021 Museum Park Vision Plan.

Art in the Park

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 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.

Park Information

The Park is free and open daily, including holidays, from dawn to dusk.

Discover More

The Museum Park has been transformed over the last 40 years, since the Museum opened on Blue Ridge Road in 1983, growing from the original 50-acre site to the current 164-acre campus of trails and outdoor sculpture. The Park provides a unique opportunity for active living amidst art and nature.


Welcome Center

The Museum has redesigned an underutilized portion of the Park to welcome visitors at the District Drive entrance. Intentionally transformed from a former place of imprisonment into a welcome zone, it invites fun and exploration. The Welcome Center provides comfort with water fountains, food, and restrooms. Visitors of all ages can enjoy the Musical Swings and Daydreamer Benches. A sunflower field planted behind Wind Machine delights visitors, pollinators, and birds each fall. The patio beside the smokestack provides a gathering place for friends and family. Learn more about architecture at the Museum.


Sustainability measures can be found throughout the Park. Wildlife is supported by a diverse palette of native plants, and habitats are preserved through invasive species management. Stormwater runoff is captured from the landscape, buildings, and parking lots and filtered for pollutants, improving water quality and preventing flooding downstream. The system also filters runoff through terraces of native plants and soil before it enters the pond. The pond is part of a water conservation system that includes a 90,000-gallon underground cistern used for the water features and irrigation system around West Building. Learn more about sustainability and stormwater management in the Park.


There are many habitats in the Park that create an ecosystem that supports the preservation of native plants, birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. The ongoing restoration of the Park manages forests, prairies, a pond, and streams. We invite you to explore the pond, the most active area for wildlife viewing. Rest on the pond platform and experience the largest element of surprise and delight in the Park. Learn more about the various habitats in the Park.

History of the Land

While no American Indian sites have been identified within what is now the Museum Park, since the area encompasses a creek, it is probable that American Indian activity occurred here. From 1920 to 1997, North Carolina operated a prison farm and correctional institution on the property. The Polk Youth Detention Center was relocated to Granville Correctional Institution in 1997; the buildings were removed in 2004. In 2001 the Department of Transportation created an extension of the Capital Area Greenway through the area. The Park first opened to the public in 2003. Learn more about the history of the site.

Natural History

The Park is located within the Northern Outer Piedmont ecoregion and is part of the Upper Neuse River Watershed. For over 160 years, the majority of the site was converted from its natural forested condition into various land-use types. The clearing of the oak-hickory forest and conversion to agriculture had severe and long-lasting effects. The removal of trees led to the destabilization of topsoil, which increased stormwater runoff and sediment deposition into the streams. Agricultural use also caused a reduction in the diversity of plant life and wildlife. Learn more about what the Museum is doing to reverse negative impacts to the Park site.

Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater in the Museum Park


The Museum’s Amphitheater is part of a large-scale environmental artwork by two architects, an artist, and a landscape architect (designed 1992–94, constructed 1994–97). Integrating art and architecture, the work is built around the phrase PICTURE THIS. The giant letters are sculpted in various materials and cover over 2 1/2 acres. Many of the letters incorporate text with specific references to the history, culture, and landscape of North Carolina. The space welcomes 50,000+ visitors annually to enjoy music, film, and the performing arts. Learn more about Picture This and performances in the Amphitheater.

The state of North Carolina is situated on the ancestral homelands of many American Indian tribes who have lived in this place, cared for these lands, and traveled throughout the region for thousands of years. Tribes spoke different variants of Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Siouan languages. We honor them as the first stewards of this land and acknowledge, with sorrow and remorse, the violent history of their dispossession and forced removal.
We respectfully acknowledge the Coharie, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi, Sappony, and Waccamaw Siouan, and we honor the enduring presence, vibrance, and diversity of contemporary Indigenous communities.

-North Carolina American Indian Heritage Commission


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