19 big names to know in the Charlotte arts and culture scene

Lexi Johnston of Charlotte Ballet. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Charlotte is home to a vibrant arts and cultural community with ways to engage that are both small — neighborhood art galleries — and large — massive museums.

Get started on your experiences with these 18 big names in our city’s arts and culture scene.


Blumenthal Performing Arts Center


Blumenthal oversees an array of venues with performances ranging from jazz to slam poetry. Venues include Belk Theater, Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, Booth Playhouse, Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square and Stage Door Theater. It’s also the organization behind the Broadway Lights Series, which has brought massive touring productions like “Hamilton” and “The Sound of Music” to Charlotte. In 2018-2019, the series includes “Miss Saigon” and “Cinderella.”

Charlotte Symphony


Our city’s symphony was established in 1932. Today, the symphony is the largest arts employer in the region, with 59 full-time musicians led by music director Christopher Warren-Green. You can catch the Symphony in a variety of ways, from their performances at the Blumenthal’s Belk Theater to their Symphony Pops summer concerts at SouthPark’s Symphony Park.

Charlotte Ballet


Under artistic director Hope Muir, this dance ensemble offers high energy performances including both classical ballets and innovative contemporary works. The 2018-2019 season brings titles like “Nutcracker” and “Peter Pan.”

Opera Carolina


This professional opera company led by conductor James Meena brings performances and education programs to venues like Knight Theater and Blumenthal’s Belk Theater, as well as to community schools. The 2018-2019 season features the shows “Carmen,” “Eugene Onegin,” “Fallujah,” and others.

The Mint Museum

500 S. Tryon St., Charlotte; 2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte. www.mintmuseum.org.

Between its two locations in Charlotte, the Mint collects, conserves, exhibits and develops educational programming around art and design from around the world. While the Mint Uptown is closed for improvements until Aug. 17, The Mint at Randolph is currently featuring exhibitions like “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta” through Aug. 19.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

420 S. Tryon St., Charlotte. www.bechtler.org.

This museum, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, houses a collection of mid-20th century modern works by Picasso, Calder, Warhol and others. The collection was amassed by the Bechtler family of Switzerland. Exhibitions in 2018-2019 include “Wrestling the Angel” and “Alfred Manessier.”

McColl Center for Art + Innovation

721 N. Tryon St., Charlotte. mccollcenter.org.

Housed in an historic, neo-Gothic church, this art institution hosts artists-in-residence programs, Open Studio Saturdays, events and exhibitions focused on contemporary art. The exhibition “Sam Van Aken: The Open Orchard” continues through Aug. 25.

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte

ImaginOn, 300 E. Seventh Street, Charlotte, www.ctcharlotte.org.

CTC strives to bring exceptional theatre experiences to young generations and encourage them to explore their world’s wonders. The organization offers diverse experiences for children and families each year through its professional productions in Charlotte and on tour around the region, and through its variety of education programs like summer camps and creative drama classes. The 2018-2019 season includes shows like Roald Dahl’s “Matilda The Musical” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

Theatre Charlotte

501 Queens Road, Charlotte. www.theatrecharlotte.org.

For its 2018-2019 season, this volunteer-based theatre company established in 1927 is presenting “Disaster!,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Peter & the Starcatcher” and more. Fun fact: The North Carolina Theatre Conference has honored this organization as Community Theatre of the Year three times.

Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte


In its 30th season, this performance group and resident theatre company at Queens University of Charlotte spotlights top plays from around the country and has won the George A. Parides Professional Theatre Award from the North Carolina Theatre Conference three times. In the 2018-2019 season, enjoy “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” “The Great Beyond” and others.


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

551 South Tryon St., Charlotte. www.ganttcenter.org

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture hosts art exhibitions, performances, education programs and events that celebrate the contributions of Africans and African-Americans to our nation’s culture. Exhibitions in 2018-2019 include “Frankhavemercy: Frequency” and events include the Classic Black Cinema Series.

Levine Museum of the New South 

200 E. 7th St., Charlotte. www.museumofthenewsouth.org.

This interactive museum presents exhibitions and education programs around a comprehensive interpretation of post-Civil War Southern history. The centerpiece exhibit is “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers.” Other 2018-2019 exhibitions include “Splendid Service: Camp Greene & the Making of a New South City” and “Let Love Reign.”

Discovery Place

Multiple locations

The minds behind this science-based institution, which has been in Charlotte for 70 years, view science as a lens for seeing and understanding the world around us. Historical exhibitions have included an in-depth exploration of Genghis Khan, pop-culture exhibits have included a spotlight on the Rubik’s Cube, and interactive educational opportunities have included up-close viewings of bee hives and planetarium projections. The organization’s three museum categories are science, nature and kids, for a multi-faceted experience of science in the city’s culture. Bonus: Adults age 21 and up can check out the Discovery Place Science museum after hours (cocktails included) each month with the Science on the Rocks program.

Billy Graham Library

4330 Westmont Drive, Charlotte. billygrahamlibrary.org.

This barn-shaped establishment on 20 acres of land showcases Billy Graham’s transformation from a farm boy growing up around Charlotte to a religious leader. Visitors can tour his home and take the “Journey of Faith” tour to experience photos, memorabilia and more from his life. Through November 2018, there is also a special exhibit called “Billy Graham — An Extraordinary Journey” featuring photos and testimonies from people impacted since his death.

Carolinas Aviation Museum

4672 First Flight Dr., Charlotte. www.carolinasaviation.org.

This museum alongside Charlotte Douglas International Airport hosts exhibitions that explore both early flight and contemporary aviation. Exhibitions range from helicopters, to military aviation to the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane.

Charlotte Museum of History

3500 Shamrock Dr., Charlotte. charlottemuseum.org.

Charlotte Museum of History seeks to interpret and preserve Charlotte’s history through programming and exhibitions like “Charlotte Neighborhoods,” “A Focus on Sports” and “On the Way To Here: Adventures in Photography, Music, and Life.” The museum also oversees the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Home Site.

Historic Latta Plantation

5225 Sample Road, Huntersville, www.lattaplantation.org.

This 52-acre site holds a plantation home and 11 outbuildings through which visitors can explore North Carolina life from 1800-1865. Enjoy guided house tours, events, re-enactments and more.

Historic Rosedale Plantation

3427 N. Tryon St., Charlotte. www.historicrosedale.org.

Rosedale was built in 1815 by a merchant, postmaster and tax collector on a 919-acre plantation, later run by a doctor and slave families. Today, visitors come here to experience the architecture, decorative arts and lifestyles of the 19th century.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

400 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd., Charlotte. www.nascarhall.com.

This interactive space shares the history and heritage of NASCAR with artifacts, exhibits, a broadcast studio and more. Features in the hall include “Glory Road” with 18 historic cars and the “Hall of Honor” commemorating NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees.



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