What Is the Ackland Museum?

L. Whitaker
L. Whitaker
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The Ackland Museum of Art, located on the northern edge of the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), serves the university's academic community as well as providing learning resources for community organizations, individual community members, and students from kindergarten through high school. This art museum first opened in 1958 and was completely renovated during a three-year period beginning in 1987. This museum's permanent collection features over 16,000 art works of varying styles and time periods, with several special exhibitions organized each year. Approximately half of the available gallery space is dedicated to traveling exhibits and other special presentations.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Ackland Museum can be found near the intersection of South Columbia Street and Franklin Street in the small university town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The museum features an evolving schedule of programming for adults, children, and families. One highlight of the museum's family programming is the themed Family Day offered each month with art-based activities. The Ackland Museum also offers collaborative programs with the Kidzu Children's Museum. Adult programs at the Ackland Museum include yoga and music events that take place within the gallery spaces, as well as frequent lunch-hour art lectures.

Admission to this art museum is free. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday weekly. Parking lot, front entrance, and restrooms of the Ackland Museum are accessible to those with disabilities.

Adjacent to the museum is the Ackland Museum Store, which offers merchandise related to the Ackland's exhibits and permanent collection. Among the items for sale are jewelry, pottery and other fine housewares, children's books and toys, stationery, artist monographs, written works by North Carolina authors, and other relevant books for adults. The store also features a gallery space that highlights original artworks by artists of the region. All proceeds from the Ackland Museum Store benefit programs at the museum.

The Ackland Museum was founded at the bequest of William Hayes Ackland, a Tennessee native and amateur art collector who wished to support fine arts in the southeastern U.S. Duke University was originally bequested the funds for the museum, but rejected the bequest based on certain stipulations specified by Ackland. After a long court battle involving Ackland's surviving relatives, the funds were eventually awarded to UNC-CH, which had been Ackland's second choice. His third choice was Rollins College, located in Florida.

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