The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh, North Carolina, is a sprawling complex of galleries, gardens, and an outdoor theater. It is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.
The Museum’s permanent collection began in 1947 when the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated $1 million to purchase works of art, making North Carolina the first state in the nation to use public funds to buy art.
The collection has grown to include European paintings from the Renaissance to the 19th century, American art stretching from the 19th-century to contemporary art, Egyptian funerary art, and sculpture and vase painting from ancient Greece and Rome. Other collections include African art, Ancient American art, Oceanic art, and Jewish ceremonial objects.
NCMA also houses 30 works by Auguste Rodin, making the NCMA the leading repository of this artist’s work in the southeastern United States.
The Museum is open and bright, making it a pleasant experience as I walk through the quiet galleries.
The European collection is my favorite. Of the 139 paintings and sculptures purchased with the original appropriation, 123 were European. Following other donations and purchases, the Museum’s collection is considered one of the finest collections in the United States.
I find the American Galleries interesting, too, as I follow national history through the artist’s interpretation.
Because I have been to Greece and visited several museums there featuring Greek and Roman works, I am drawn to the classical collection as I remember my travels. Included are the Greek Bronze Age cultures in the Aegean and mainland Greece and the Villanovan and Etruscan cultures of northwest and central Italy.
The same is true as I examine the ancient Egyptian art collection representing the significant periods of ancient Egyptian history, from Predynastic to Roman. As I look at each piece, I recall my previous experience in Egyptian museums and the Valley of the Kings.
The African collection highlights the continent’s creativity through gold and regalia, masquerade, ceramics, textiles, and modern and contemporary art spanning 16 centuries. The Judaic Art Gallery features ceremonial objects from the major Jewish traditions as well as from modern Israel.
- A pair of mid-18th-century silver and gilt Torah finials.
- A large standing Hanukkah lamp, circa 1930.
- An elegant pair of silver finals and matching Torah pointer dated 1783 from the Orthodox Synagogue in Plymouth, England.
I did not visit the Modern and Contemporary Galleries. The website lists several pieces, including:
- Frank Stella’s painting Raqqa II (1970)
- Anselm Kiefer’s Untitled (1980–86) triptych
- Gerhard Richter’s abstract painting Station (577-2) (1985)
- Elizabeth Murray’s Pigeon (1991)
- Jaume Plensa’s sculpture Doors of Jerusalem I, II, & III (2006).
Outdoors I follow along a curving sidewalk to an outdoor gallery. In the center of several sculptures are two long rectangle fountains featuring delicate pink waterlilies.
My afternoon was so enjoyable at this Raleigh treasure. When I am in North Carolina, I am sure I will make my way to the Museum again.
Museum gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum Park remains open from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.Tags: arts center, museum, North Carolina