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Arts and Culture Spotlight

From its numerous museums to the symphony and children's theater, Charlotte is brimming with culture.
Perched on the plaza outside of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is The Firebird: a 17-feet 5-inches tall sculpture that is a whimsical, bird-like creature covered from top to bottom in pieces of mirrored and colored glass.
Perched on the plaza outside of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is The Firebird: a 17-feet 5-inches tall sculpture that is a whimsical, bird-like creature covered from top to bottom in pieces of mirrored and colored glass.

From the visual arts to the performing arts to local history and heritage, Charlotte’s arts and culture offerings are as unique and diverse as its people. Here are some of the city’s most engaging and inspiring attractions devoted to arts and culture.

The Visual Arts

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art – The iconic Bechtler houses more than 1,400 works by mid-20th century artists including Picasso, Calder and Warhol in an intimate museum designed by renowned Swiss architect Mario Botta.

Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture – Named for prominent architect and Charlotte’s first African-American mayor, Harvey Gantt, the museum’s design is as fascinating as its exhibits and permanent collections. Works by prominent North Carolina artists like John Biggers and Romare Bearden speak to the black experience throughout the Carolinas.

The Mint Museum – This local institution is actually two museums. The Mint Museum Randolph houses historic costumes and Native American art. The newly opened Mint Museum Uptown is where you’ll find contemporary, American, and craft and design collections, as well as traveling exhibitions.

The Light Factory – Founded in 1972 to nurture emerging artist-photographers, The Light Factory is now one of only four museums for photography and film in the country. In addition to photography and video art exhibitions, screenings and major film events, it offers nearly 100 classes in photography and filmmaking.

McColl Center for Visual Art – Located in a historic, neo-Gothic church in Uptown Charlotte, this contemporary art center is dedicated to connecting art and artists with nine artist studios and over 5,000 square feet of gallery space.

The Performing Arts

Blumenthal Performing Arts – This multi-venue organization stages Broadway shows and local productions in music, theater, dance and more. Performance spaces range from the 2,100-seat Belk Theater to the intimate Booth Playhouse. It’s home to the many of the area’s arts organizations, including the Charlotte Symphony and NC Dance Theatre.

Charlotte Symphony – Acclaimed conductor Christopher Warren-Green took the reigns of this 80-year-old institution in 2010. With 100 performances each season, this is the most active and largest professional performing arts organization in the central Carolinas.

North Carolina Dance Theatre – This world-class repertory dance ensemble performs classic, contemporary and avant-garde dance as part of one of the oldest professional ballet companies in North Carolina.

Opera Carolina – The motto: Great Artists. Great Productions. Great Opera. The premier professional opera company in the Carolinas performs classics like “Carmen” and “La Boheme,” as well as contemporary creations like “Cold Sassy Tree.” Performances can also be heard online and on NPR World of Opera.

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte – This is where innovative theatrical and educational programming brings stories to life for young people and families.

Culture, Heritage & Natural History

Levine Museum of the New South – This interactive history museum illuminates Charlotte and the surrounding Carolina Piedmont with its full-story interpretation of post-Civil War southern society.

Charlotte Nature Museum – Participate or observe? So many choices! A stroll will allow you to observe and interact with live insects and animals in their natural environment, or you can relax and enjoy a puppet show or one of the many planned daily activities.

Carolinas Aviation Museum – This museum puts the role of aviation in perspective through a collection of more than 50 aircraft, including the Miracle on the Hudson, Flight 1549. Climb into the cockpit of a vintage airplane and let your imagination soar.

Discovery Place – Interactive exhibits and educational programs take you on an informal yet extraordinary exploration of the natural and social world. See science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a fun new light.