Arts & Culture

The Ultimate Guide to Museums in Charlotte

Discover art, history, science, racing and nature at the Queen City’s award-winning museums.

Save up to 59% on top attractions and museums with the Explore CLT Pass.


Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

To you, fine art may be a painting by Pablo Picasso or Edgar Degas. Maybe it’s the architecture of a historic home or a walk-through pavilion surrounded by butterflies. Or perhaps your idea of art is a ’67 Corvette. Charlotte has dozens of museums celebrating beauty of all kinds. Find a few that offer your favorite art, and enjoy an outing of inspiration and education.


Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Neighborhood: Uptown
You’ve seen the Firebird sculpture out front. Step inside to discover more. Explore the work of masters of modern art, including Picasso, Miró, Calder and Degas. The building is a stunning work of art itself, only the second in the country designed by postmodern Swiss architect Mario Botta.

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

Neighborhood: Uptown
The artwork here is more than painting and photography. It’s film. Theater. Dance. Literature. Lectures. Discussions. All of it celebrates the contributions of artists of African American and African descent.

McColl Center for Art + Innovation

Neighborhood: Uptown
Housed in an old neo-Gothic church, this museum not only introduces you to new art, but it introduces you to the artists themselves. Resident artists frequently open their studios to the public, offering a glimpse into the artistic process.

Mint Museum Randolph

Area: Eastover
In 1936, this became North Carolina’s first art museum. Today it offers a wide variety of art, from ancient American art to European decorative arts, housed in a former U.S. Mint building in a beautiful Eastover setting.

Mint Museum Uptown by Jeffrey Clare

Mint Museum Uptown

Neighborhood: Uptown
Craft and design (including glass, wood art and jewelry) and contemporary art (from paintings to sculptures to video) shine at this beautiful museum. It’s close enough to other Uptown arts venues to create a day of cultural exploration. (Purchase the $20 Levine Center for the Arts Pass, which grants you access to four of them for 48 hours.)

Sonia and Isaac Luski Gallery at the Foundation for the Carolinas

Neighborhood: Uptown
This free gallery located on the first floor of the Foundation for the Carolinas on Tryon Street features art pieces (contemporary glass is the star of the exhibit) from the personal collection of Issac and the late Sonia Luski, two of the city’s top philanthropists and art connoisseurs.


The Billy Graham Library

Charlotte Museum of History

Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
In the permanent Backcountry Gallery, learn what life was like here centuries ago for residents—including the Catawba Nation, European immigrants and African Americans—through housing replicas, artifacts, maps and historic exhibits. Rotating exhibits celebrate other unique perspectives of Charlotte's history.

Gaston County Museum

Area: Dallas, NC
Learn about Gaston County’s history during its textile years through exhibits that include 19th-century hotel rooms, North Carolina's largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles and—most impressively—one of Thomas Edison’s original electric generators.

Levine Museum of the New South

Levine Museum of the New South

Neighborhood: Uptown
This museum doesn’t only explore our city’s past; it shows the intersection of past, present and future. Exhibits and events present an inclusive and thorough examination of the lives and events in Charlotte from the end of the Civil War to today.

Matthews Heritage Museum

Area: Matthews, NC
This modest museum in downtown Matthews offers a glimpse into life there during its mill days. The museum itself is an artifact: the restored Massey-Clark House, built in 1879, is one of the oldest in town.

Museum of the Alphabet

Area: Waxhaw, NC
Learn about the evolution of language through the history of alphabets—including cuneiform, Native American alphabets, braille and even music—in this free museum, created by a Christian nonprofit dedicated to Bible translation.

North Carolina Music Hall of Fame

Area: Kannapolis, NC
Listen, watch and learn about great musical performers and composers with North Carolina roots, like The Avett Brothers, Charlie Daniels, Shirley Caesar and James Taylor.


Photo courtesy of Discovery Place Kids

Discovery Place Kids

Area: Huntersville, NC
To kids, it’s all about play—race cars, experiments, art projects! But adults know the secret: Kids here are learning valuable lessons in science, health and creativity while they’re having fun.

Discovery Place Nature

Neighborhood: Myers Park
Budding naturalists can take kid-friendly hikes, walk in a butterfly pavilion, build forts and maybe even pet a snake in this nature museum adjacent to Freedom Park.

Discovery Place Science

Neighborhood: Uptown
Explore an indoor rainforest. Try a 3D printer. Touch a starfish or crab. This hands-on museum makes science come alive for kids of all ages, even us big kids.

Living History

Hezekiah Alexander House

Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Step inside this 1774 home to discover what life was like for the Alexander family in the 18th century. Located next to the Charlotte Museu of History, the house has been restored to its 18th-century interior, and the nearby log kitchen has been reconstructed on its original site. It’s also the oldest surviving structure in the county.

Historic Brattonsville

Area: York County, SC
This 775-acre historic site preserves the history of the people and places (including a Revolutionary War battlefield) of the Bratton community in the upcountry of South Carolina in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Historic Latta Plantation

Area: Huntersville, NC
With 52 acres, this living museum and historic farm offers a peek into life on a cotton plantation in the 1800s for planters, slaves and settlers. Get a guided tour of the plantation home, step inside a reconstructed slave cabin, and see farm animals, like sheep, chickens and pigs.

Historic Rosedale Plantation - Photo by Allison Varriale

Historic Rosedale Plantation

Area: University City
When it was built in 1815 as the home of Archibald Frew, this yellow-trimmed home was so extravagant it was known as “Frew’s Folly.” Now this home and its gardens are open to the public for tours.

Historic Rural Hill

Area: Huntersville, NC
This 265-acre historic farmland and nature preserve was home to six generations of the Davidson family and features eight Colonial-era structures on-site. The nonprofit celebrates the land's 250+ years of history through annual cultural events and educational programming.

President James K. Polk State Historic Site

Area: Pineville
During Polk’s presidency, America expanded its territory by a third, for the first time extending from Atlantic to Pacific. This site teaches about Polk’s life—which began here in Pineville—as well as his monumental chapter in history as the 11th President of the United States.

Reed Gold Mine

Area: Midland, NC
The first gold discovered in the U.S. was discovered here, and people continue to come here to learn about the history of mining—and some even pan for gold themselves.

The Museum of York County

Area: Rock Hill, SC
This heritage museum compares the natural history of the region from 600 years ago to the area’s current landscape. Plus, a naturalist center, planetarium, Tot Town and an outdoor nature trail provide experiences that celebrate the natural and cultural history of the region and beyond.

Welcome Home Veterans Living Military Museum

Area: Mooresville, NC
Since 1995, Richard’s Coffee Shop in Mooresville has been building a museum dedicated to honoring veterans as well as active duty and emergency services personnel. The exhibit continues to grow as veterans who visit share their stories and artifacts. Our State magazine called the hybrid coffee shop/living museum “The Most Patriotic Coffee Shop in America.”


Photo courtesy of Mustang Owner's Museum

Memory Lane Museum

Area: Mooresville, NC
From its early years in moonshine running to the high-tech racing of today, the story of racing is on display here. With over 150 cars—including some driven by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt—it boasts the largest collection of privately owned NASCAR and vintage racing cars in the world.

Morrison Motor Car Museum

Area: Concord, NC
Whether your idea of a classic car is a 1922 Model T, a ’67 Corvette, or the ’04 Monte Carlo driven by Will Ferrell in “Talladega Nights,” this car museum near Charlotte Motor Speedway will have something that catches your eye.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum

Area: Concord, NC
With its grand opening in spring 2019, this museum honors all things Mustang: the history, the racing and the specialty builds. Exhibits rotate regularly, bringing new displays about this iconic car.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Neighborhood: Uptown
A must for NASCAR fans, this large Uptown museum offers all kinds of entertainment and education about the sport, including hands-on exhibits, a theater, historic cars and racing simulators.

North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame

Area: Mooresville, NC
The NCARHOF is partly a museum that teaches the history of racing in North Carolina and partly a gallery that showcases the beauty of the history-making cars. Exhibits celebrate all types of racing, from drag racing to stock car racing, as well as some of the most influential racers in NASCAR and motorsports in the state.


Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium

Latta Nature Center and Preserve

Area: Huntersville, NC
Begin inside the center, learning about the region’s plants and animals in the discovery hall. Then venture outside to the butterfly gardens, bird feeding stations and nature preserve trails to interact with nature firsthand.

Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium

Area: Gastonia, NC
Learn about natural history through exhibits on wildlife and habitats, gaze up at the stars in a planetarium, and explore the outdoors on trails, a wildlife garden and even a Stone Age heritage site.

Article originally written by Jen McGivney. Updates by Kristen Moore.