United States

12 Exhibitions to Visit in North Carolina this Fall

by Paul Joseph  |  Published October 3, 2022

The southeastern state of North Carolina is home to a huge number of museums and other cultural institutions, many of which are hosting exhibitions throughout this Fall.

(Photo: Wassily Kandinsky, Autumn II, 1912, oil and oil washes on canvas, 23 7/8 x 32 ½ in., The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1945; © 2022 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris)

Many of its most renowned museums are located in the capital Raleigh, but dotted across the state are cultural venues that stage regular programmes of both permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as other special events. If you’re visiting North Carolina this Fall and would like to check out an exhibition during your stay, we’ve come up with our selection of 12 of the best.

A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from The Phillips Collection

Featuring more than 50 pieces by iconic artists including Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Paul Cézanne from the world-renowned Phillips Collection, this exhibition brings artists famous for their depictions of light, colour, and modern life to the North Carolina Museum of Art. Opening alongside a historic reinstallation of the museum’s collection, it showcases extraordinary paintings by titans of impressionism, postimpressionism, expressionism, and cubism.

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh / 8 October 2022 – 22 January 2023

Across the Threshold of India – Photographs by Martha Strawn

(Photo: Gregg Museum of Art & Design)

Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of the arts and knowledge, permeates the mysteries of spice, taste, and art in Indian culture. One practice in honouring her is to sanctify the space between physical and spiritual existence by the creation of evanescent drawings, typically made of rice flour carefully sprinkled on the ground to create intricate patterns. For this exhibition, Martha Strawn, visual ecologist and photographer, has documented this practice through a series of images of these special diagrams drawn on the actual thresholds of Indian homes, usually created by the women of the family, and serving to symbolise the separation of secular and sacred spaces, and as a protection from evil, ill will or bad luck.

Gregg Museum of Art & Design, Raleigh / Through 12 November 2022

Asheville Pinball Museum

(Photo: Asheville Pinball Museum)

In contrast to today when most of our recreation time is spent at home, often with our eyeballs glued to a screen, this pinball nostalgic museum takes visitors back to a bygone era. Located in downtown Asheville, the museum is packed to the brim with evocative exhibits, including some 75 vintage pinball machines, all available to play on site. There are also numerous classic video games available, plus tons of gaming memorabilia dotted around the venue – on the walls and even in the restrooms. And just like the halcyon days of arcades, the museum also offers lashings of snacks, sodas and beers.

Asheville Pinball Museum, Asheville / Permanent

Egyptian Tent

Egyptian tentmaking has been a colourful feature of the streets of Cairo for many centuries. Primarily involving appliqué – sewing one piece of cloth atop another to make a pattern or image – the practice known as khayamiya can line the interior of an entire tent, As an art form, it dates back at least to Pharaonic times, though over the last two centuries its role has evolved from adorning tents for ceremonial feasts or celebrations like weddings, to smaller, more portable textiles for sale as souvenirs to tourists. This exhibition displays one of only six fully intact Egyptian tents in museum collections anywhere in the world, alongside examples of khayamia panels from the Gregg museum’s permanent collection.

Gregg Museum of Art & Design, North Carolina State University, Raleigh / Through 23 December 2022

James Cameron – Challenging the Deep

This exhibition traces explorer and filmmaker James Cameron’s passion for deep-ocean science, technology and exploration – including his record-breaking dive to the bottom of the ocean. Using projections, artefacts and specimens from his expeditions, visitors can experience how Cameron’s passion for exploring our oceans shone a light on the least-known place on earth. Explore the spectacular abyss and discover the shipwrecks of Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck, learn how technologies pioneered by Cameron for underwater filming and diving are employed in both his filmmaking and exploration, and see original film props and costumes from silver screen classics such as “The Abyss” and “Titanic”.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh / 15 October 2022 – 17 May 2023

The Story Behind Echo the Whale

(Photo: North Carolina Maritime Museum)

For one day only this October, Maritime Museum Curator Keith Rittmaster will discuss the story of “Echo” – a 33.5-foot long adolescent sperm whale which came ashore at Cape Lookout in 2004. During the process of his bones and heart being preserved for study and display. the whale’s heart was sent to the University of Tennessee for plastination. In this fascinating informal lecture, Keith will cover the step-by-step process of retrieving, preserving and displaying the specimen that now resides in the museum gallery. The talk is part of the museum’s Maritime Heritage Series of lectures held in the museum’s auditorium.

North Carolina Maritime Museum, Beaufort / 13 October 2023

The Power of Women in Country Music

From international superstars, including Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Rosanne Cash, Shania Twain, and Taylor Swift, to contemporary North Carolina artists, such as Rhiannon Giddens, Rissi Palmer, and Kasey Tyndall, this exhibition highlights the past, present, and future of country music’s greatest female trailblazers. Spanning the early years and post–World War II to the emergence of Nashville as a country music mecca and to female country artists becoming global pop sensations, it will feature artefacts, such as instruments and costumes, and special content from a diverse roster of female country artists.

North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh / 28 October 2022 – 26 February 2023.

Explore the Wild: Red Wolves

(Photo: Museum of Life and Science)

Among the Museum of Life and Science’s array of permanent exhibits is a captivating wolf habit featuring two red wolves – Ellerbe and Eno – who serve as vital ambassadors for  what has become a critically endangered species that was once common in North Carolina. Ringed by a former rock quarry wall, the wolf enclosure provides a naturalistic backdrop and vertical climbing challenge for its two residents, while a pool with a waterfall pool and wolf den create places where the duo can cool off and retreat.

Museum of Life and Science, Durham / Permanent

Korea and the Cold War

The US Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum recounts the actions of heroic soldiers from the 1940s to the current day. Among its permanent exhibits is Korea and the Cold War, which chronicles the years following WWII, when the US and Soviet Union engaged in what’s known as a “Cold War.” But “hot” wars also erupted in East Asia, when Communist-backed forces from North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950 and again in Southeast Asia in 1955. As you explore this exhibition, you’ll learn how the Airborne and Special Operations units worked deep inside North Korea to gather intelligence, conduct raids, sabotage, rescue POWs, lead guerrilla armies and create confusion in the enemy.

Airborne & Special Operations Museum, Fayetteville / Permanent

Women of Change: The Legacy of the 19th Amendment

(Photo: City of Raleigh Museum)

This exhibition tells the fascinating story of the quests for equal suffrage in 1920 and what women did with the vote over the next century. Through an assortment of thought-provoking artefacts, photos and displays, visitors will learn all about Raleigh’s very own suffragists, organisers, and elected officials whose efforts redefined women’s role in politics, allowing us to honour and celebrate a century of often tumultuous but ultimately successful struggles that helped change Raleigh – and the world – forever.

City of Raleigh Museum, Raleigh / Ongoing

Made In New Bern

Part of the extensive Tryon Palace, the North Carolina History Center is home to exhibits and attractions that explore the area’s rich history, from the original Native Americans who first lived in the coastal Carolina area to the town’s heyday as the original capital of the new state of North Carolina. This exhibition features Tryon Palace collection pieces that were produced in Craven and the surrounding counties. The objects on display include textiles, furniture, artwork, and photography, with highlights including a Stanly family coverlet, James Davis currency, Freeman Woods silver, and an 18th-century case clock.

North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace, New Bern / Through 8 January 2023

World Alive

From the lush green plants of the rainforest to tiny crustaceans walking along the seafloor, our planet is full of life. This exhibition lets you explore the wonders of the natural world by investigating diverse habitats filled with unique plant and animal species. In the aquarium, visitors can dive to the ocean’s depths and come face-to-face with coral, tropical fish and other sea creatures, including those that call the North Carolina coastline home such as sea stars, sea urchins, horseshoe crabs and oyster reefs. There’s also an immersive urban rainforest experience where you can  channel your inner adventurer as you trek across the canopy rope bridge and witness a birds-eye view of the tropical habitat below.

Discovery Place Science, Charlotte / Ongoing