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 10:00 am–5:00 pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 10:00 am–8:00 pm Thursdays; and 1:00 pm–5:00 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 on the Ackland Art Museum website.
America Seen: The Hunter and Cathy Allen Collection of Social Realist Prints
Friday, Jan 31–Sunday, Apr 13
The 1920s, 30s, and 40s were decades of dramatic economic and cultural change in the United States―from the Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression to the New Deal. The period saw substantial growth in print culture in America, as the government instituted the Works Progress Administration (WPA), aiming to put unemployed Americans back to work. The Federal Art Project, a division of the WPA established in 1935, employed artists, including printmakers, to create works inspired by the “American Scene.” Alongside this government patronage, many artists also produced works for organizations such as Associated American Artists, founded in 1934, to deliver original prints directly to the public.
America Seen presents a very recent generous gift to the Ackland of thirty-eight prints―lithographs, wood engravings, etchings, and wood-block prints―made between the mid-1920s and the mid-1940s. Each individual print repays close attention to the artist’s choice of medium and composition.
The prints illustrate a broad range of popular and evocative subject matter through scenes from everyday life, both urban and rural: labor and unemployment, the hardship of poverty, the pleasure of pastimes such as cards and music, and cityscapes highlighting the New York City subway. To varying degrees these works of art are critical, documentary, and celebratory, but all are powerful visual statements about America during this turbulent time.
The prints in America Seen have been generously donated to the Ackland by Hunter Allen and his wife, Cathy Allen, a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 1973.
Also on view at the Ackland, in connection with America Seen:
Hale Woodruff and Aaron Douglas: New Arrivals at the Ackland
This special installation presents an expressionistic 1940s Mississippi landscape by Hale Woodruff and a previously unknown gouache version of one of Aaron Douglas’ most important compositions from the same decade.
America in Motion: New Deal Documentary Films by Pare Lorentz
In connection with America Seen, the Ackland will continuously screen two politically charged, highly dramatic documentary films by Pare Lorentz, often called “FDR’s Moviemaker”: The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936), produced for the U.S. Resettlement Administration, and The River (1938), produced for the USDA Farm Security Administration.
“The New Found Land”: Engravings by Theodor de Bry from the Collection of Michael N. Joyner
Friday, Jan 31–Sunday, Apr 13
This exhibition highlights prints made by the Franco-Flemish engraver Theodor de Bry (1528–1598) to illustrate the 1590 edition of A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia by Thomas Harriot. De Bry’s images and Harriot’s text offered Europeans a detailed account of the appearance and customs of Native Americans encountered by the British settlers on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina, in 1585. Published in four languages and widely distributed, the book and its illustrations gave Europeans their first—and lasting—impressions of Native Americans.
Over forty compelling engravings, some hand-colored and from various editions of the book, will be supplemented in the exhibition by related materials from two other University collections: the North Carolina Collection in the Wilson Special Collections Library and the North Carolina Archaeological Collection in the Research Laboratories of Archaeology.
Divided into three sections, The New Found Land includes portraits, maps, and other materials related to the so-called “Age of Exploration” 400 years ago; the illustrations for Harriot’s book; and a selection of Native American artifacts from societies close in time, place, or lifeway to those encountered by the Roanoke settlers, thereby balancing the European (and Europeanizing) view with examples of indigenous cultural production.
The engravings and other printed matter, intended gifts to the Ackland, have been generously lent by Michael N. Joyner, UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 1977.
Opening Events, Friday, Jan 31
Members’ Opening Reception
5:30 pm. RSVP required: Please call Kate Walton at (919) 843-5637.
Open to current Ackland Art Museum members. Reserved parking is available.
Current Ackland Art Museum Members are invited to a private celebration of the opening of our spring exhibitions, America Seen: The Hunter and Cathy Allen Collection of Social Realist Prints and The New Found Land: Engravings by Theodor de Bry from the Collection of Michael N. Joyner.
Public Opening Reception
Free admission. No RSVP required.
Be among the first to see America Seen: The Hunter and Cathy Allen Collection of Social Realist Prints and “The New Found Land”: Engravings by Theodor de Bry from the Collection of Michael N. Joyner.
Additional Programs related to the Exhibits
Scholars’ Breakfast: America Seen
Monday, Feb 3, 9:00 am – RSVP Requested
Area scholars and students with special interests in the themes and issues of the exhibition are invited to visit and discuss America Seen during a private viewing. On hand will be Peter Nisbet (Chief Curator, Ackland) and Megan Williams (curator of America Seen and dual degree candidate at UNC-CH: MA, Art History, and MLS). Faculty, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students from all regional universities and colleges are invited to attend. Coffee and pastries will be served.
Scholars’ Breakfast: The New Found Land
Monday, Feb 10, 9:00 am – RSVP Requested
Area scholars and students with special interests in the themes and issues of the exhibition are invited to visit and discuss The New Found Land during a private viewing. On hand will be Peter Nisbet (Chief Curator) and Carolyn Allmendinger (Director of Academic Programs). Faculty, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students from all regional universities and colleges are invited to attend. Coffee and pastries will be served.
Friday, Mar 14, 7:30–9:30 pm
In celebration of America Seen, our exhibition of prints from the era, enjoy an evening of entertainment, 1930s style! Guests will savor classic American cocktails created especially for the evening by some of the area’s best bartenders. Try your hand at classic games like pinochle and whist in the game room and hear the period’s signature sounds of jazz and the blues performed live. Fee: $45 for members; $50 for non-members.
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.
The Ackland Film Forum, a collaboration between the Ackland Art Museum and numerous departments at the UNC-Chapel Hill, highlights different aspects of the art of cinema and showcases the aesthetic power of film. Art films, narrative films, and documentaries are chosen by UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and Ackland staff, often in connection with particular courses, campus-wide initiatives, or exhibitions.
Film screenings take place on select Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 7:00 pm at the Varsity Theatre, 123 East Franklin Street.
Fee: Free admission for students with valid university or high school ID, $4 for all others unless otherwise noted with an asterisk (*). Tickets are available at the Varsity Theatre Box Office.
American Comedy, American Democracy
A series of films devoted to the ways that Hollywood cinema, particularly depression-era comedies, have depicted the problems and possibilities of democracy. Co-presented with the UNC Global Cinema Studies Program.
American Comedy, American Democracy is the inaugural William Nolan Cinema Series sponsored by the UNC Global Cinema Program, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and the department of English and comparative literature.
Thursday, Feb 6
Ruggles of Red Gap*
Thursday, Feb 13
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington*
Thursday, Feb 20
Thursday, Mar 27
To Be or Not to Be
Tuesday, Apr 15
Tuesday, Apr 22
A film history of our popular music, from blues to bluegrass to Broadway. Co-presented with the UNC Music Library, the music department, the Center for the Study of the American South, and the Southern Folklife Collection.
The Ackland Art Museum is thrilled to take part in America’s Music, a project of the Tribeca Film Institute in partnership with The American Library Association Public Programs Office, Tribeca Flashpoint, and The Society for American Music. Made possible by a major grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.
The Blues and Gospel Music*
Tuesday, Feb 25
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: “Feel Like Going Home”
Say Amen, Somebody
Broadway and Tin Pan Alley*
Thursday, Feb 27
Broadway: The American Musical: “Syncopated City”
Tuesday, Mar 4
The International Sweethearts of Rhythm
Ken Burns’ Jazz: “Swing, The Velocity of Celebration”
Country and Bluegrass*
Tuesday, Mar 18
High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass
Thursday, Mar 20
The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll: “Plugging In”
Latin Rhythms from Mambo to Hip Hop*
Tuesday, Mar 25
Latin Music USA: “Bridges”
From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale
Swain Lot Film Festival
Thursday, May 1 and Friday, May 2, 7:00 pm
The annual juried series of short films by UNC student filmmakers in the Communication Studies Department. Check the Ackland Film Forum web page for more detailed information closer to the event.
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.
Wednesday, Mar 5, 12:00 pm
Join Judy Kertesz (NCSU, history) for a discussion of Native American history and museums, presented in connection with the exhibition The New Found Land.
Wednesday, Apr 2, 12:00 pm
John Kasson (UNC-Chapel Hill, history and American studies) discusses Shirley Temple and the Great Depression, presented in connection with the exhibition America Seen.
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 non-members. Registration required; call (919) 843-3677 to make an appointment.
- Thursday, Mar 20, 1:00–4:00 pm
- Thursday, May 15, 1:00–4:00 pm
Led by Ackland curators Peter Nisbet and Timothy Riggs, these sessions offer an intimate look at American prints from the Ackland’s permanent collection that are not currently on view, as well as an exploration of their connections to the spring exhibitions.
Fee: $25/session for Ackland members; $35/session for non-members. RSVP required. Call Allison Portnow at (919) 843-3687 to make your reservation.
- Thursday, Feb 6: 1930s Prints by African-American Artists, with Peter Nisbet, 6:00–7:30 pm
- Thursday, Mar 6: Contemporary Native American Art-Making, with Peter Nisbet, 6:00–7:30 pm
- Thursday, Mar 27: Engraving the Old World/New World, with Timothy Riggs, 6:00–7:30 pm
- Thursday, Apr 3: 1930s American Prints on a Musical Theme, with Timothy Riggs, 6:00–7:30 pm
The second Saturday of every month from 10:00 am–12:00 pm, Amanda Hughes (Director of External Affairs) leads participants in a creative exploration of a particular object in the Ackland’s collection.
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.
In addition, join Amanda for a Thursday evening Drawing in the Galleries session. Thursday evening dates coming soon, so check the Ackland website for details.
- Saturday, Feb 8, 10:00 am–12:00 pm
- Saturday, Mar 8, 10:00 am–12:00 pm
- Saturday, Apr 12,10:00 am–12:00 pm
- Saturday, May 10, 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.
Sunday, Feb 16, 2:00 pm
Encounter musical visions of the New World with this concert of early music, including Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes, by the UNC Baroque Ensemble, part of the UNC Music Department.
Sunday, Mar 16, 2:00 pm
Performance information coming soon. Check the Ackland website for details.
Join us for Tai Chi in the Galleries, which is inspired by the renowned Asian art collections at the Ackland. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese movement practice known to reduce pain and improve your mental and physical balance and well-being. This class uses gentle Sun-style tai chi routines that are safe, easy to learn, and suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
All movements are done standing. Wear comfortable clothes and supportive flat shoes. The class is taught by Joanne Marshall, a certified yoga and Tai Chi for Health instructor. More information about Sun Style tai chi can be found at the Tai Chi for Health Institute website.
All classes are held from 12:00–1:00 pm. Fee: free for members; $5 for non-members (payments should be made at the door by cash or check).
- Monday, Feb 10 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Feb 24 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Mar 10 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Mar 24 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Apr 7 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Apr 21 – Register for this session!
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. Fee: free for members; $5 for non-members (payments should be made at the door by cash or check).
- Monday, Feb 3 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Feb 17 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Mar 3 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Mar 17 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Mar 31 – Register for this session!
- Monday, Apr 28 – Register for this session!
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.
Not sure about Art à la Carte? Read a UNC student's perspective to learn about what to expect!
Location: Meet in the Ackland Art Museum Lobby
Fee: $10 per class (materials provided). Registration is required, as space is limited. Register online.
Friday, Feb 7, 4:00–7:00 pm
Learn tips on how to draw portraits using graphite and/or charcoal pencils.
Friday, Feb 21, 4:00–7:00 pm
In this session you’ll experience what it’s like to work in a darkroom and use darkroom equipment. You’ll create unique photograms by using various objects and light exposure.
Drawing From a Gridded Image
Friday, Feb 28, 4:00–7:00 pm
Come prepared with an image (a photo or a magazine image) that you’d like to translate into a drawing. Each image will be broken down into a grid, which can be used as a drawing guide. You can even enlarge your image!
Found Object Sculpture
Friday, Mar 21, 4:00–7:00 pm
In this session, students will have to opportunity to walk around campus and collect various found objects (from nature, trash, and so on), then use these objects to create a sculpture. BYO objects as well, if you prefer.
Masking Tape Paintings
Friday, Apr 4, 4:00–7:00 pm
In this session, students will use masking tape to create geometric forms, leading to the creation of a complete painting. Bright colors and textured styles will reveal a clean dynamic image when the tape is removed.
Linoleum Block Printing
Friday, Apr 11, 4:00–7:00 pm
Come prepared with an image you’d like to translate into a linoleum block print. You’ll learn how to carve the image, ink the block, and transfer the image to paper.
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.
Designed for six- to nine-year-olds, Art Adventures sessions provide kids with a guided view of art in the Ackland’s galleries, followed by the opportunity to create take-home treasures in an adjacent art studio using newly-learned art-making techniques. Materials are provided.
Fee: free for members; $5 for nonmembers. Space is limited.
Love is in the Air
Saturday, Feb 1, 1:00–2:30 pm
View artworks about love and friendship and then create your own valentines to share.
Saturday, Apr 5, 1:00–2:30 pm
Learn about prints made in America in the 1930s and try your hand at different drawing techniques. Register Here
Saturday, May 3, 1:00–2:30 pm
Drawing for Tweens
This program invites ten- to thirteen-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, register online.
- Saturday, Feb 8: Linear Perspective
- Saturday, Mar 8: Heads and Faces in Art
- Saturday, Apr 12: Drawing from Nature
- Saturday, May 10: Topic TBA
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 four to twelve years old.
Discovering North Carolina
Sunday, Feb 23, 2:00–5:00 pm
Discover artworks that gave sixteenth-century Europeans their first glimpse of the native people and land of North Carolina in the exhibition The New Found Land. Create a telescope and other way-finding instruments for your journey through the galleries, and listen to stories about exploration and treasure at 3:00 and 4:00 pm.
City and Country
Sunday, Mar 23, 2:00–5:00 pm
Be inspired by prints of American cities and landscapes from the 1930s and 1940s, and create your own collaged cityscape. Construct buildings and communities using blocks, and join us for story time at 3:00 and 4:00 pm.
Sunday, Apr 27, 2:00–5:00 pm
Discover sculpture from many times and places at the Ackland! Create your own sculpture using a variety of materials, collect sketches of sculptures from all of the galleries, and join us for story time at 3:00 and 4:00 pm.
Words and Art
Sunday, May 25, 2:00–5:00 pm
Join us for a fun-filled day of storytelling and art-making! Design pop-up story books to share with your friends and family and create a collaborative picture-story based upon a work of art. Join us for story time at 3:00 and 4:00 pm.