Arts & Culture

Best Permanent Exhibits In Charlotte

July 15, 2013 8:00 AM

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Collecting for some is a life-long passion and often these collections end up as public exhibits. Charlotte has been particularly lucky in this regard, and the city’s cultural scene is greatly enriched by museums that feature the collections of remarkable individuals. Although all items of a collection are rarely on display due to space limitations, at each of these museums, a revolving selection from their signature collections is on permanent exhibit.
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Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (Credit, Renee Wright)

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 353-9200
Housed in a stunning terracotta building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, the Bechtler family’s collection of modern art includes examples of all the major art movements of the 20th century, from Expressionism to Pop. It is particularly strong in works from the School of Paris after World War II. The collection includes works by European, British and American artists, many of whom were family friends, including Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miro, Jean Tinguely, Edgar Degas, Max Ernst and Andy Warhol. The most prominent item in the collection is the magnificent 15-foot mirrored “Firebird” in front of the building, a popular location for photographs.

Related:  Best Exhibits to Visit This Summer in Charlotte

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Billy Graham Library (Credit, Renee Wright)

Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC 28217
(704) 401-3200
Whatever your religious leanings, the collection at the Billy Graham Library, actually a museum, is a must for history buffs. Mementoes, awards and gifts from prominent world leaders are on permanent display among high-tech multi-media exhibits. Designed to resemble the dairy farm near Charlotte where the evangelist grew up, the gallery follows Rev. Graham from his early tent revivals to the worldwide ministry of today. Exhibits include artifacts from many significant world events where Graham played a part, including an evocative room recreating the fall of the Berlin Wall. The museum is open daily except Sundays, and admission is free.
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Luski Gorelick Center for Philanthropy (Credit, Renee Wright)

Foundation for the Carolinas
Luski Gorelick Center for Philanthropy
220 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 973-4500
Occupying the former Montaldo’s department store, once the home of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, the Foundation has the collections of the Luski families on permanent display in its first floor galleries. A highlight of the exhibit is a dazzling array of art glass from the field’s top names including Jon Kuhn, Jose Chardiet and Steven Weinberg, displayed with professional lighting that brings out the brilliance of each piece. The collection also includes large format works by Andy Warhol and Chuck Close. A free cell phone tour gives details about each piece. The Foundation’s gallery is open every weekday and is free for all.
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Gantt Center (Credit, Renee Wright)

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture
551 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 547-3700
The modernist building of the Gantt Center is home to the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art, an assemblage of 58 works collected by the couple over 50 years. The artworks are by 20 of the best known African-American artists, including Margaret Burroughs, Jonathan Green, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett and Henry Ossawa Tanner. Featured artists in the collection are Charlotte natives Romare Bearden and Charles Alston. In 1998, Bank of America acquired the Hewitt’s collection to form the cornerstone of the Gantt Center’s permanent exhibits.
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Mint ceramics (Credit, Renee Wright)

The Mint Museum
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 337-2000
The Mint Museum has been the recipient of numerous bequests since its founding in 1936 and many of those collections are on permanent display. The original museum on Randolph Road houses the majority of the permanent exhibits, including galleries dedicated to decorative arts, fashion history, the arts and crafts of the ancient Americas and Africa, including an extensive mask display, and on the ground floor, an exhibit detailing the history of the Mint. The ceramics gallery is one of the country’s finest, thanks to the Delholm collection of British and European ceramics and a huge collection of North Carolina pottery, the largest in the United States. This is also where you’ll find the iconic portrait of Queen Charlotte. Permanent exhibits at the new Mint in Uptown include a gallery dedicated to Romare Bearden and the Mint’s Craft + Design collection, one of the foremost displays of artistic crafts in the country.

Related: Best Art Museums in Charlotte

With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at

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