Wednesday, September 12, 2012

North Carolina Museum of Art - Raleigh, NC

by Donna L. Watkins

This is definitely not your typical art museum! And it's all FREE! Sited in a 164-acre park in Raleigh, the Museum offers a unique blend of art, architecture, and nature. It seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. Large expanses of meadows.

The permanent collection includes works in the categories of: African, American, Ancient American, Egyptian, Classical, European, Contemporary, Modern, Judaic and Rodin. There are also changing exhibitions as in any museum of art, and those may have an admission fee.

© Donna L. Watkins - Walk Right In
North Carolina Museum of Art - Raleigh, NC
As we walked from the parking lot to the building, there was an area between two wings of a building that looked like glass, but had to be water. It certainly took us off the "beaten path" to explore it. It seemed like we could just walk right into the clouds reflected on the surface.

View photo album of North Carolina Museum of Art.

The building is a new (2009) 127,000-square-foot, light-filled building designed by New York-based architects Thomas Phifer and Partners. One of those places where you feel like you're going in circles and could spend the day finding something new to discover. We realized after leaving that we had missed some areas. The most disappointing one being the Rodin collection of 28 sculptures. We've been to the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia which includes over 140 sculptures representing every phase of Auguste Rodin's career, but it was quite a long time ago, so would've been nice to see these.

Wind Machine by Vollis Simpson at
North Carolina Museum of Art - Raleigh, NC
Not only does it have the usual, it has an outdoor area called Museum Park that has huge sculptures as big as buildings. The 164-acre Museum Park is home to more than a dozen monumental works of art. The artists are actively involved in the restoration of the Park’s landscape and the integration of art into its natural systems.

This work of art in the photograph is titled, Wind Machine, created in 2002 by a WWII veteran. Vollis Simpson, built his first wind machine as a power source, while stationed on the island of Saipan. He started creating kinetic sculptures out of found objects, when he retired in 1985. Made of discarded parts from cars, trucks, bicycles, farm equipment, street lights, and highway signs, Simpson's whirligigs transform castoff everyday objects and industrial materials into whimsical wind machines.

In summer they even provide free outdoor movies on a huge screen next to the amphitheater, which is in this beautiful, sculpture-filled Museum Park. Even the amphitheater is part of a monumental work of art. Films are shown in 35 mm on an enormous screen that’s built onto the wall of the East Building.

It was a hot afternoon when we visited so we didn't get to see much of the huge sculptures in Museum Park or get to the far corner of the property where the nature trails began. Like my husband says, "It gives us a reason to go back."

We also visited Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham on this trip and we had been there before at the end of November and the Fall colors in the garden and around the lake were amazing. We have always said we'd like to go back to see it in full bloom. So, we got to do that on this trip. God designed us to live in gardens ... and it's such a delight to spend time in them around the world.

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