Visitors and locals alike seem to love exploring the Queen City every chance they get. Visitors often find it difficult to do and see everything on their list during their time here – there’s not enough days in the week to see Charlotte for all it has to offer! Weather you’re a fan of art, NASCAR, history, nature, or culture, you’ll find plenty of fun and insightful museums and/or places to see here.
Let us be your tour guide…
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Built by Swiss architect Mario Botta, this intimate and elegant museum displays collections of 20th century artworks by artists like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Tinguely, and many more. The entire collection of artworks was amassed by art patron and resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, Andreas Bechtler. The works of art were inherited and gathered by the Bechtler family over a period of 70 years, and previous to the opening of the Bechtler Museum, were privately held by the family in Switzerland. The Bechtler Museum is located within the Levine Center for the Arts in Uptown.
Mint Musem (Uptown and Randolph)
This internationally-renowned museum of art showcases art and design from around the globe. Their mission is to engage and inspire all members of the community, which is upheld by their values of innovation, inclusiveness, and respect for diverse peoples and cultures. You can find exhibits in two Charlotte locations: One is in Uptown Charlotte at the Levine Center for the Arts, which is just a few miles from the other location on Randolph Rd.
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture
Featuring the contributions of Africans and African-Americans to American culture, the Harvey B. Gantt Center serves as a “community epicenter for music, dance, theater, visual art, film, arts education programs, literature and community outreach” according to their website. The center itself is located in what was once the historic Brooklyn neighborhood, and the building’s architecture and design reflects the culture in West Africa and is reminiscent of quilt designs from the era of the Underground Railroad.
Charlotte Fine Art Gallery
This gallery is located on Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte. Artist Joni Purk who owns the gallery features art in all different styles and medias from artists all over the United States, including some Charlotte locals. Each month the exhibit features a different artist. At this event you can come in, meet the artist while sipping some wine and enjoy the artwork.
The Light Factory
The Light Factory is an exhibition for photography and film, featuring works of emerging artists as well as established artists from around the world. They take pride in their community outreach, stating on their website that they “ultimately want to have an impact beyond our walls, and out in the community”. In 2017 they launched a program called “Literacy Through Photography/Film” which allowed their artists to become teachers to local students of all ages eager to learn the ins and outs of the art of photography.
Science and History Museums
Discovery Place Science
Discovery Place is a leader in STEM education outreach in the Carolinas. Their exhibitions educate students from preschool through 12th grade about science, nature, and technology. With a total of four museums in different cities throughout the Charlotte and surrounding areas, kids from all over the Carolinas come here to enjoy a fun day of learning and socializing.
Levine Museum of the New South
Dedicated to engaging all audiences, Levine Museum of the New South educates its visitors about the history of the South (focusing on the Charlotte and Carolina Piedmont areas) post-civil war era. Their focus is from the years of 1865 to today, shedding light on how our history has shaped our present and future. If you’re fascinated by history local to your region, Levine Museum of the South should be on your list of things to do in Charlotte.
Wells Fargo History Museum
This museum focuses on the history of banking in America, exhibiting displays of old banking documents, telegraphs, gold coins, old money, and more. Here you will learn about how Wells Fargo Bank played a large role in the trade system we have in place today. The Charlotte location teaches these things plus a special focus on gold mining in North Carolina. Best part about this one? It’s FREE!
The Charlotte Museum of History
Operating out of the last surviving house from the 1700’s in Mecklenburg County, the Alexander House, this museum focuses on the unique history of Charlotte, with an emphasis on the settlement of Carolina Backcountry. The house itself is an interesting piece of history – it has a reproduced log kitchen and barn, among other features, to look almost exactly as it did back then.
Discovery Place Nature
Another branch of Discovery Place is their Nature Museum, which features planetarium shows daily, meet and greets with animals, a nature trail, and multiple other exhibits and play areas. You can watch the calendar of events for a live show time to bring the kids to, or rent the museum for the day to host your own party or event.
The Billy Graham Library
Considered “America’s Pastor”, Billy Graham is a North Carolina native who grew up dedicating his life to Jesus Christ. Tours of the library begin with a multimedia presentation followed by exhibits and audios of the Gospel. The library itself is designed to be reminiscent of the dairy farm Graham grew up on.
Discovery Place Kids
The “Kids” branch of Discovery Place is an all-encompassing space to explore the many fundamentals you learn throughout childhood, like how to eat healthy, how to be creative and how to get moving and be active,…but Discovery Place puts a unique spin on these fundamentals with interactive exhibits and shows, allowing the children to perform and explore these values hands-on.
Carolinas Aviation Museum
The Carolinas Aviation Museum was founded in 1991 by a couple who had learned about the plans to tear down the original hangar at the Charlotte Douglas Airport, in an effort to preserve the hangar as a historical landmark. Here you will find tons of old air crafts dating back to the 1940’s and learn about North and South Carolina’s aviation history.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame is one of Charlotte’s most popular attractions. It is dedicated to educating fans and non-fans alike about the history of NASCAR in a fun and interactive way. You can see retired cars on showcase, learn about the drivers, crew members, and team owners, and learn about the history and future of the sport itself.
Hendrick Motorsports Museum & Shop
Rick Hendrick, entrepreneur and owner of Hendrick Motorsports, has led some of his drivers to earn their spot on NASCAR’s all-time Cup Victories list. His enterprise is a successful one, and the museum showcases that success. Visit the museum and shop on the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Concord, North Carolina.
Have you been to any of these, or are you planning your trip? Let us know which one(s) are your favorite in the comments below!
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