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Charlotte Arts: Where to Find Culture in North Carolina's Queen City

Charlotte Arts: Where to Find Culture in North Carolina's Queen City | CosmosMariners.com

It may be a center for banking (America's second largest after New York City!), but there's plenty to offer visitors who are in search of decidedly non-banking stuff in Charlotte, North Carolina. For those of us (like myself!) who can't get enough of museums, art, dance, and theatre, the Queen City is the perfect spot for a long weekend. From museums that your kids will love to theatres that celebrate the grace and poise of ballet, Charlotte is the place to be if you're looking for a little more culture in your life.

Unique Museums in Uptown
In a great location on South Tryon Street, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has four stories packed with local and national artwork. My favorite time periods in literature and art are the modern and post-modern periods, so I enjoyed the wide array of artists and art styles represented here. On the top floor was a collection of Henri Matisse's art books: I loved learning more about the intertwining of myth, writing, and sketching in Matisse's works through this incredible exhibit, which runs through mid-September.

During your visit, don't forget to take a picture with the 17-foot-tall iconic Firebird statue out front!

Charlotte Arts: Where to Find Culture in North Carolina's Queen City | CosmosMariners.com


The Levine Museum of the New South is the only museum of its kind in the world: it focuses exclusively on the history of the South post-Civil War. I love learning about the antebellum South, but it was refreshing to find a place that tried to unpackage the complicated economics, race relations, and rebuilding process that took place after the war.

Charlotte Arts: Where to Find Culture in North Carolina's Queen City | CosmosMariners.com

Named after the man who was the first to integrate Clemson University (my alma mater!), the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture celebrates the literature, poetry, paintings, dance, and film created by African-Americans. As another nod to the center's focus, the museum is located in the Levine Museum of the Arts, which resides in one of the nation's oldest African-American communities. 

The McColl Center for Arts is located in a gorgeous old church at 721 North Tryon Street. Head inside to wander the more than 5,000 square feet of exhibition space and nine art studios.

Little Arts for Little Kids
Imaginon is geared towards the younger set, but pulls off the intersection between kiddie entertainment and thoughtful teaching beautifully. With a library, a hands-on learning section, and a large theatre for children's productions, Imaginon is an excellent way to introduce literature, arts, and plays to your favorite little traveler. The Children's Theatre of Charlotte operates a fantastic line-up of kid-centric plays throughout the year in Imaginon's theatre.
Charlotte Arts: Where to Find Culture in North Carolina's Queen City | CosmosMariners.com
In the theatre at Imaginon awaiting the start of an adaptation of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar


A staple in Uptown Charlotte since the 1980s (and a childhood favorite of mine!), Discovery Place makes science fun. This two story museum is completely hands-on, so you and your kids can lay on a bed of nails to test gravity, use wooden slats to build famous landmarks and learn about architecture, and get up close and personal with fish in the aquarium downstairs.

Charlotte Arts: Where to Find Culture in North Carolina's Queen City | CosmosMariners.com
Britton checking out Discovery Place--and loving every minute
With gorgeous collections of ceramics, glass, fiber, and wood, the Mint Museum Uptown boasts a nationally-recognized Craft and Design collection. It's located right across the street from the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art so you can have a cultural day!

Culture All Year 'Round
If you're looking for a night out at the theatre, there are several places in Uptown where you can catch a concert, stand-up comedy, symphony, or play. The schedules for each place vary according to the season, so check out each calendar to find the perfect performance for you!
  • Carolina Theatre
  • The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center houses several smaller areas, including the Booth Playhouse and the Belk Theatre. 
  • Charlotte Ballet
  • Charlotte Symphony
  • McGlohon Theatre
Arts Elsewhere in the Queen City
Leaving Uptown doesn't mean that you're leaving the museums and learning experiences behind. Visit Discovery Kids, a museum geared for younger children, on Gilead Road after you've explored the main museum. The Carolina Aviation Museum, located near the airport, showcases the state's rich history in flight, which began with the Wright brothers lifted off on Kitty Hawk in the Outer Banks. Peek inside the library of one of the most influential religious leaders of the last century at the Billy Graham Library

Do you enjoy visiting museums? Which of these would you like to visit in Charlotte? What's the best museum that you've experienced?
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