The Ackland Art Museum presents more than a dozen exhibitions every year, offering a wide stylistic range of art, from contemporary American photography to European master paintings, video installations to Early Modern portraits. The Ackland's holdings—over 16,000 works of art—include significant collections of European masterworks, twentieth-century and contemporary art, African art, North Carolina pottery, and folk art. In addition, the Ackland has North Carolina's premier collections of Asian art and works on paper (drawings, prints, and photographs). The Ackland has a vibrant and active program and event schedule offering music, films, gallery talks, and other activities on weekends and during the Museum's extended Thursday evening hours.
The Ackland Art Museum is located at 101 South Columbia Street in Chapel Hill, near the corner of South Columbia and East Franklin Streets. Admission is always free, with donations appreciated.
Museum hours are 10 am–5 pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 10 am–8 pm Thursdays; and 1pm–5 pm Sundays. Parking is available at several nearby municipal and private parking decks, and metered street parking is available on Franklin Street. More information is available at 919-966-5736 (general information), 919-843-1611 (recorded information), or visit the Ackland Art Museum website.
The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989
Friday, Sep 13, 2013–Sunday, Jan 5, 2014
In 1989, playwright, actor, and activist Safdar Hashmi was fatally attacked by political thugs while performing a street play outside of Delhi. His death led to the founding of Sahmat, a vital platform for contemporary art in India that defends freedom of expression and battles intolerance within the country’s often divisive political landscape. Through a mix of art and ephemera, The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989 uniquely situates two decades of contemporary Indian art within the political sphere while meditating on art’s capacity as a force for change.
As an exhibition, The Sahmat Collective offers an in-depth look at the collaborative work produced by a group of artists who have chosen to create together, driven by the urgent belief that art can propel political change and that culture can reach across boundaries of class. Organized by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, the show introduces Sahmat to the United States by examining key projects from 1989 to the present day, including street-based mobile shows, large cultural sit-ins, performances, and conceptual exhibitions. It includes works in a variety of media from over sixty artists including Manjeet Bawa, Atul Dodiya, Subodh Gupta, Zarina Hashmi, Rummana Husain, Bharti Kher, Pushpamala N., Nalini Malani, Gigi Scaria, Nilima Sheikh, and Vivan Sundaram.
In addition to surveying Sahmat’s multifaceted history, the exhibition assesses the impact this unique—and sometimes controversial—collective has had on contemporary Indian society and artistic practice, re-contextualizing Indian art of the last two decades in relation to the national and global political climate in which it was produced, and connecting this work to larger discussions about the recent history and current practice of activist art within a global context.
Offered in parallel to The Sahmat Collective at the Ackland, the exhibition Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University (Sep 19, 2013–Feb 2, 2014) explores the creation and maintenance of borders, both physical and psychological, as well as the idea of partitions as productive spaces where nations forge new identities and relationships. Many of the artists focus on the border between India and Pakistan, and two also have work on view in The Sahmat Collective. To learn more, visit the Nasher Museum website.
Opening Events, Thursday, Sep 12
Members’ Preview of The Sahmat Collective
5:30 pm. Free admission.
Open to current Ackland Art Museum members.
Members enjoy an exclusive first look at the exhibition with Emily Kass, director, and Peter Nisbet, chief curator. Savor drinks and delicious Indian hors d’oeuvres by Vimala’s Curryblossom Café. Reserved parking is available.
RSVP for this event.
Public Opening Reception of The Sahmat Collective
6:30–8:00 pm. No RSVP required.
Free admission. Cash bar.
Be among the first to see The Sahmat Collective at the Ackland Art Museum. Sample delicious Indian street food by Vimala’s Curryblossom Café and enjoy music and dance performances by UNC Sangeet and UNC Bhangra Elite.
Other Sahmat Events
Friday, Sep 20, 8:00–10:00 am
Area scholars and students with special interests in the themes and issues of the exhibition are warmly invited to visit and discuss The Sahmat Collective during a private viewing with coffee and pastries. On hand will be Peter Nisbet (Ackland Chief Curator) and Iftikhar Dadi (Sahmat artist, art historian at Cornell University, and co-curator of the parallel exhibition, Lines of Control at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University).
RSVP for this event.
K–12 Educator Open House
Thursday, Oct 3, 5:00–7:00 pm
Free. No RSVP required.
Explore contemporary art from India in the politically and socially charged exhibition The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989. Engage with area educators and Museum staff in conversation about artists and their artwork that are driven by the urgent belief that art can propel change. Enjoy refreshments, participate in tours of the exhibition, and take away teaching ideas to use in the classroom or in the Museum.
Art on the Move at Festifall
Sunday, Oct 6, 9:00 am and 12:00 pm
Free. No RSVP required.
Inspired by the large-scale moving artworks of the Sahmat Collective’s “Art on the Move” project, the Ackland invites artists and community members of all ages to create a moving sculpture on top of your own bicycle. Join us for a Construction Party in the morning, using materials provided and those you’ve brought to build a rolling artwork that reflects your vision of social justice (9 am). After the artworks are finished, we’ll join together to create a Pop-Up Exhibition of our Art on the Move at Festifall, the Town of Chapel Hill’s annual fall arts fair (12–6 pm). Prizes will be awarded for the best sculptures!
Presented in partnership with the Town of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Cultural Arts Division, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, the Scrap Exchange, and the Paperhand Puppet Intervention.
Soup2Nuts with Pushpamala N.
Wednesday, Oct 9, 6:00–8:00 pm
Free for current Ackland Art Museum members.
Meet internationally recognized Bangalore-based photo- and video-performance artist Pushpamala N., whose work Motherland with Om Flag and Trishul is included in The Sahmat Collective. Guests will enjoy a casual dinner of soup followed by a conversation with the artist, who will discuss her art, the work of Sahmat in response to Indian politics, and her own role in the collective.
RSVP for this event.
Interactive Theater Workshop
Saturday, Nov 16, 10:30 am–1:30 pm
Fee: $25; free for UNC students with valid One Card. Registration opens on Oct 16.
Safdar Hashmi, the playwright, actor, and activist whose work inspired the formation of the Sahmat Collective, used live street theater performances to incite social change. Participants of this program will experience an interactive theater performance by local theater for social change troupe Theater Delta focusing on issues of classism. After a break for lunch, participants will take part in a workshop led by Interactive Theatre Carolina.
All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more information or to register for a program, visit the Ackland’s Adult Programs web page.
On selected Wednesdays every month, the Ackland invites members of the University community and friends of the Ackland to attend a lunch hour lecture. Bring a bag lunch and enjoy an hour of inspiration and information about art in the Ackland’s collection.
Admission is free. Because space is limited, an RSVP is requested.
With Afroz Taj (Asian Studies) and John Caldwell (Asian Studies) on “Sahmat’s Theatrical Origins”
Wednesday, Oct 2, 12:00 pm
This talk explores the centrality of theater for Sahmat and its creative output. It looks at The Sahmat Collective in the context of theater, from Safdar Hashmi’s street theater to the “performance” of artworks like Art on the Move and the auto-rickshaw poetry of Slogans for Communal Harmony.
RSVP for this session.
With Gene Nichol (UNC Law) on “Sahmat, Tolerance, and Free Expression”
Wednesday, Nov 6, 12:00 pm
Sahmat has become “a vital platform for contemporary art in India that defends freedom of expression and battles intolerance within the country’s divisive political landscape.” It thus pursues “a mission of resistance against forces that threaten the essentially pluralist and democratic spirit of creative expression in India.” Nichol will explore the underpinnings of Sahmat’s bold charge—abroad and in North Carolina.
RSVP for this session.
With Iqbal Sevea (History) on “Nationalism and Communalism in Popular Culture: Representations and Re-presentations of India”
Wednesday, Dec 4, 12:00 pm
This talk will explore the ways in which Sahmat employs various mediums of popular culture (including art, theater, films, and songs) to challenge communalism and celebrate a secular vision of India. Sahmat’s work and activism will be discussed within the context of popular culture as a politicized terrain in which Indian society and history are represented or re-presented in various ways. We will particularly engage with Sahmat’s critique of communal mobilization—mobilization that is carried out both on the basis of selective representations of India’s past and attempts to censure artistic expression—and Sahmat’s depictions of secular and pluralistic traditions.
RSVP for this session.
Every other month, the Ackland Art Museum invites members of the public to bring in a work of art for consideration by an Ackland expert. Curators may offer insight into the significance of the piece and its subject matter, as well as the techniques used by the artist and the work's condition.Please note: the Ackland staff is unable to authenticate or financially appraise works of art. Limit one work per person.
Fee: free for members; $10 for nonmembers. Registration required; call (919) 843.3677 to make an appointment.
- Thursday, Sep 12, 1:00–4:00 pm
- Thursday, Nov 7, 1:00–4:00 pm
The second Saturday of every month from 10 am–12 pm, Amanda Hughes (Director of External Affairs) leads participants in a creative exploration of a particular object in the Ackland’s collection.
New in Fall 2013: Once a month, join Amanda Hughes for an evening Drawing in the Galleries session. See below for dates!
For all sessions, bring paper and dry media (crayon, pencils, and so on). All levels are welcome.
Free and open to the public. No reservation necessary.
- Saturday, Sep 14, 10:00 am–12:00 pm
- Thursday, Sep 19,
6:00–7:30 pm—New Time!
- Saturday, Oct 12, 10:00 am–12:00 pm
- Thursday, Oct 17,
6:00–7:30 pm—New Time!
- Saturday, Nov 9, 10:00 am–12:00 pm
- Thursday, Nov 21,
6:00–7:30 pm—New Time!
- Saturday, Dec 14, 10:00 am–12:00 pm
Every third Sunday of the month, enjoy music in the Ackland’s galleries. A wide variety of performers can be heard, from classical quartets to bluegrass, to enhance your Museum experience.
Free and open to the public.
In connection with the Ackland’s exhibition The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989, the fall season of Music in the Galleries features musical and dance performances by South Asian performing arts groups from UNC-Chapel Hill. As a part of each performance, members of the ensembles will demonstrate key features of their art forms—and invite audience members to try them out! John Caldwell (Asian Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill), whose research focuses on Indian music and popular culture, will host these special Music in the Galleries.
Sunday, Sep 15, 2:00 pm
This Sunday, enjoy the music of UNC Samaa, a student a capella group that fuses Western popular music with South Asian popular and traditional music.
UNC Ek Taal, UNC Bhangra Elite, and the Tar Heel Raas
Sunday, Oct 13, 2:00 pm
This Sunday features the dancing of three UNC student troupes: UNC Ek Taal, a dance troupe that mixes classical Indian dance with modern dance; Bhangra Elite, who specialize in the popular bhangra-style of traditional Indian dancing; and the Tar Heel Raas, who perform traditional forms of Indian dance from the western part of India.
Sunday, Nov 17, 2:00 pm
This Sunday features UNC Sangeet, who perform traditional Indian classical music.
The Ackland’s Take Two Tours offer two perspectives on a topic related to The Sahmat Collective. UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members join experts from the Museum’s staff for conversational tours that explore the work of Sahmat in greater detail, adding insights from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
Free and open to the public. No RSVP required.
Upcoming Tour Dates
Take Two Tour: Sahmat in Context Tours: Indian Art before Sahmat
Sunday, Sep 8, 2:00 pm
In anticipation of the opening of The Sahmat Collective, this conversational tour of the Ackland’s permanent collection of South Asian art will consider major themes and subjects in Indian art prior to 1989, the year Sahmat formed.
Take Two Tour: Sahmat in Context: Art and Activism
Sunday, Oct 6, 2:00 pm
Explore the use of art for political purposes looking at both The Sahmat Collective and examples from the Ackland’s collection. Two guides lead an exploration of our newest exhibition The Sahmat Collective in the context of the Ackland’s world-class collection.
Take Two Tour: Sahmat in Depth: Religion
Sunday, Oct 20, 2:00 pm
During today’s tour, learn about the critical place of religious difference in Sahmat’s work, in particular, artistic responses to “communalism” and the political manipulation of religious identity. UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member Carl Ernst (Religious Studies) joins Carolyn Allmendinger for today's tour.
Take Two Tour: Sahmat in Context: Art and Performance
Sunday, Nov 3, 2:00 pm
This afternoon, look at works in both The Sahmat Collective and the Ackland’s collection that are inspired by musical and theatrical performances.
Take Two Tour: Sahmat in Depth: Activism and Art
Sunday, Nov 10, 2:00 pm
This Sunday, learn about how Sahmat is situated in a global context of art and activism. UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member Susan Harbage Page (Women’s and Gender Studies) joins Carolyn Allmendinger for today's tour.
Take Two Tour: Sahmat in Context: Art and the Everyday
Sunday, Dec 1, 2:00 pm
Today, examine works of art that are used for everyday purposes—from auto-rickshaws to earthenware.
Take Two Tour: Sahmat in Depth: The Past in the Present
Sunday, Dec 8, 2:00 pm
Examine the aspects of Sahmat artworks that borrow and engage with elements of Indian history, art and culture. UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member Emma Jane Flatt (History) joins Chris Currie for today's tour.
Last Look at The Sahmat Collective
Sunday, Jan 5, 2014, 4:00 pm
Join us for a tour of The Sahmat Collective, led by Amanda Hughes (Ackland Director of External Affairs), on the last day of the exhibit. This tour will be your last opportunity to see your favorite works from the show before we turn out the lights!
Take a break from your day and explore the world of yoga in the beautiful setting of the Ackland! The hour-long sessions offered by registered yoga teacher Joanne Marshall provide an opportunity to practice a series of gentle yoga poses inspired by the art in the gallery. Beginners are welcome. Yoga mats are provided. Wear comfortable clothing that will allow you to stretch.
All classes are held from 12:00–1:00 pm. Registration is limited. Register for a session.
Fee: free for members; $5 for nonmembers.
- Monday, Sep 16
- Monday, Sep 30
- Monday, Oct 7
Art à la Carte
Bring a friend and start your weekend creatively with these relaxed, hands-on art classes designed exclusively for Carolina students. Each session, led by Allison Tierney, begins at the Ackland Art Museum, where you’ll examine the techniques, materials, and effects that other artists have achieved. You’ll then go to a studio in Hanes Art Center to try the techniques yourself as you create works of art that you can take home. Classes are designed for beginners, but are suitable for students with some art experience.
Fee: $10 per class (materials provided). Registration is required, as space is limited. Register online.
Friday, Sep 6, 4:00–7:00 pm
Learn how to play the Surrealists’ favorite creative, cooperative game, involving drawing, poetry, and a little suspense. (Note: Results will be exquisite but do not involve corpses.)
Plein Air Drawing
Friday, Sep 20, 4:00–7:00 pm
Connect with nature and the Impressionists as you discover techniques for creating landscape scenes in the great outdoors.
Friday, Sep 27, 4:00–7:00 pm
The Ackland’s current exhibition is The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989; in Hindi, the word “sahmat” means togetherness. Design and make a collage working together with other students in the class, and decide together which piece you’ll take home as a memento.
Found Book Art
Friday, Oct 4, 4:00–7:00 pm
Get inspired by words and images. Transform a second-hand book (one you bring with you or one you find in this class) into a new mixed-media work of art.
Friday, Oct 11, 4:00–7:00 pm
Bring a cell phone camera or point-and-shoot digital camera and learn basic techniques to capture varied effects of texture in your photographs. Print the best ones and decorate your dorm room or apartment!
Friday, Oct 25, 4:00–7:00 pm
Traditional silhouettes—profile portraits in black against a light background—became popular in the nineteenth century. Make an updated silhouette that sets your portrait in an imagined setting.
Friday, Nov 8, 4:00–7:00 pm
Feeling stressed? Out of ideas for final projects? In this class, use stream of consciousness to create allover drawings and discover the creativity you knew was hiding just below the surface. (Optional: Sign up for Book Binding on Nov 15 and make your doodle sheet into an art book.)
Friday, Nov 15, 4:00–7:00 pm
You may not love your textbooks just now, but journals and sketchbooks are a totally different matter. Learn how to make a book you can use to record your thoughts and drawings…or give to a friend as a gift. (Optional: Students who attended the Doodle Sheet class on Nov 8 can make their doodle sheets into a book.)
All programs for families and children are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. See the Ackland’s Family and Children’s Programs web page for more information.
Drawing for Tweens
This program invites 10- to 13-year-olds to look at selected works in the Ackland’s galleries and identify techniques that the artists used to make them. Gallery teachers demonstrate and teach participants technical skills, which they can then apply to their own artistic creations. A mix of drawing from works on display and creating one’s own original works is offered in each session.
Each Drawing for Tweens session runs from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm on the second Saturday of the month. Materials are provided. Free to members; $5 non-members. As space is limited, RSVP online.
- Sep 14: Figures
- Oct 12: Landscape
- Nov 9: Narrative
- Dec 14: Abstract Composition
Every fourth Sunday of the month, come build museum memories with the children in your life at the Ackland’s monthly Family Day! Come for a little while or stay for the whole afternoon—it’s all free! Recommended for children ages 4 to 12 years old.
Celebrating the Art of India
Sunday, Sep 22, 2:00–5:00 pm
Explore works of art from India in the Museum’s collection and in The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India from 1989 exhibition. Join us for Story Time at 3:00 and 4:00 pm to hear stories from India and visit the Creation Station to make an artwork inspired by the exhibition.
Postcards for Peace
Sunday, Oct 27, 2:00–5:00 pm
Gandhi once said “We must become the change we want to see in the world.” At the Creation Station, think about ways you can make a difference in your own community and design postcards that illustrate your vision. Join us for Story Time at 3:00 and 4:00 pm to hear stories about peace and harmony.
Exploring African Art
Sunday, Nov 24, 2:00–5:00 pm
Discover the Ackland Art Museum’s collection of African art! Design a mask inspired by objects seen in the galleries and join us for Story Time at 3:00 and 4:00 pm to hear stories from different African cultures.