Support Us Button Widget

The NCMA’s People’s Collection gets a new look

After years of planning and months of reinstallations, the North Carolina Museum of Art will reveal major changes to its most iconic collection.


The NCMA’s West Building houses the People’s Collection.

Photo courtesy of the NCMA

A major section of the North Carolina Museum of Art has been completely transformed, and the grand reveal is nearly upon us. The museum’s West Building will reopen to the public on Sat., Oct. 8, debuting the reimagined People’s Collection.

What’s the People’s Collection? It’s ours (the people of NC’s, that is). In 1947, the state legislature gave $1 million to the NCMA to purchase a collection of art for North Carolinians. The money was used to buy 139 European and American paintings and sculptures, which eventually grew to be an art collection of 4,200+ objects spanning more than 5,000 years.

Pieces from the collection have been displayed at the NCMA since the artwork acquisitions, moving from the museum’s original Morgan Street location to its current home on Blue Ridge Road in 1983. Now, 75 years after its inception, the state’s expansive, free collection has been completely reorganized for the first time since 2010 (when the West Building opened).

With the help of 11 global consultants, museum curators designed the major reinstallation to be more dynamic and accessible and to connect the collection across place and time. Be on the lookout for new pieces from NC, national, and international museums, plus site-specific commissioned works. Old favorites will also be featured, but presented in new ways.

The reimagined People’s Collection has five themed galleries:

  • Made in the Americas connects ancient America and American art with each other and with other parts of the world.
  • Portraits and Power displays historic and contemporary portraits side by side to showcase the role of how people are presented through images.
  • The Africa We Ought to Know reconnects Egypt to Africa.
  • Art Conservation showcases how the study of art, science, history, and technology are used to reconstruct and restore different types of objects.
  • The Arts will present a broad spectrum of the arts through a variety of media including moving images.

Bonus: The opening weekend is full of events to celebrate the collection, such as an NC Artists Party, Family Day, and Monster Drawing Rally. View more events.

More from RALtoday