The ultimate guide to museums in Charlotte—from Mint Museum to Discovery Place Science

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Photo by Koen Hause
The Mint Museum's African Print Fashion Now! exhibit

Whatever your mood, there is a museum to explore, and you’re in luck — the museums in the area are reasonably priced and several are even free.

Before you roll your eyes, fearing boredom at the thought of spending all day poring over artifacts, stop to consider the gems some of these places have to offer within their four walls.

The African-Print Fashion Now! A Story of Taste, Globalization, and Style exhibit at the Mint Museum Randolph shows visitors the vibrant customs of African dress, displaying colorful, boldly patterned printed cloth. It emphasizes the vastness of 21st Century African-print fashion along with the relationship between regional inclinations and cosmopolitanism throughout Africa.

The K(NO)W Justice, K(NO)W Peace exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South has a photograph of Braxton Winston standing in front of police officers in riot gear, shirtless and with his fist raised after the police shooting of Keith Scott in 2016. Winston is now a Charlotte City Council member.

[Related: From Charlotte protester to politician, will Braxton Winston’s one voice matter?]

Photo by Jeff Siner / Charlotte Observer
Braxton Winston, protester during the 2016 protests after the police shooting death of Keith Scott, now has a seat on Charlotte City Council. This photo is on display at the Levine Museum of the New South.

Visit the massive library dedicated to Billy Graham and tour the preacher’s original home at The Billy Graham Library. Or choose between the history and heritage of NASCAR, African American arts and culture, modern art, countless art collections and exhibitions and the history of the New South. There is something to pique anyone’s interest.

“Quality museums are essential to a city’s economic growth and sense of community,” said Chuck McShane, Vice President of Business Analytics and Data at Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. “While preserving and promoting culture, they offer spaces for discussions, educational opportunities and are attractive to major speakers,” he said.

Museums are often of the initial impressions visitors receive of a region, and McShane said they have the power to define a city’s reputation, influencing the number of people and businesses that move to a city and the amount of money and time people spend in a particular city. Charlotte even has more museum employees than comparably populated Tampa, Sacramento and Austin areas. Our museums employ approximately 413 people in the area, about .35 percent of the city’s workforce.

So now that we know Charlotte’s culture game is strong, how should you decide which museum is best to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon?

Check out these museums around Charlotte, and don’t miss our pro tips about admission savings:

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

420 S. Tryon St.

Photo by Alex Cason Photography
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

The Bechtler is devoted to the examining and commemorating mid-century modernism. The collection includes over 1,400 works by 20th-century modern artists. Books, photographs and letters illustrating personal connections to the Bechtler family supplement some of the works.

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday & Monday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 12-5 p.m.; Tuesday closed.
Price: $9 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, college students, teachers, children and military.

The Billy Graham Library

4330 Westmont Dr.

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Billy Graham Library

The Billy Graham Library prefers to be referred to as a ministry or a “Crusade” rather than a memorial or a museum. It was created with the intention to communicate the message of Jesus Christ to visitors. The Library is nestled on the same property as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and the complex includes Billy Graham’s childhood home.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sunday closed.
Price: Free.

Carolinas Aviation Museum

4672 1st Flight Dr.

 

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The Carolinas Aviation Museum, located beside the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, explores the history of aviation and tells the stories of innovation, hope and heroism behind it. The museum houses aircrafts as well as artifacts from the dawn of aviation. The museum even has the “Miracle on the Hudson” exhibition, highlighting the well-known passenger jet that crash-landed safely in 2009, 10 years ago on Tuesday.

The museum will be closed today and Tuesday for private events, and they are asking the community to pause at 3:31 p.m. Tuesday — the same time the plane made contact with the Hudson River — to honor those that were aboard Flight 1549.

If this one is on your list, visit soon — the current location will soon be repurposed for private aviation needs, and the museum is seeking a new home.

[Related: Want to see the plane from ‘Sully?’ Head to the Carolinas Aviation Museum]

Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. -5 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Price: $12 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, college students, children and military.

Charlotte Museum of History

3500 Shamrock Dr.

The Charlotte Museum of History aims to understand and preserve the history of Charlotte. By analyzing the past, the museum inspires dialogue about the future of the city. It focuses on the settlement of the Carolina Backcountry and the concepts and actions that sparked the American Revolution.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Price: $10 for adults $10; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, college students, children, military, members and groups.

Discovery Place Science

301 N Tryon St.

Discovery Place Science, focused on science and technology, entertains visitors of all ages. It provides shows, IMAX, exhibits and even live animals.

Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 12-5 p.m.
Price: $17 for museum entry, $10 for IMAX for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, children and members.

[Related: Top 10 things you MUST do in January]

Discovery Place Kids

105 Gilead Road, Huntersville

Here, children learn through interactive exhibits, themed zones and live shows. The museum allows kids to have fun while they discover science and more about their world.

Hours: Tuesday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 12-5 p.m.; Monday closed.
Price: $10 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for children and members.

Discovery Place Nature

1658 Sterling Road

 

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Discovery Place Nature, formerly the Charlotte Nature Museum, houses interactive nature exhibits and live animal displays including a butterfly pavilion, insects and an assortment of animals native to North Carolina.  

Hours: Monday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 12-5 p.m.
Price: $8 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for children and members.

Harvey B. Gantt Center

551 South Tryon St.

via The Harvey B. Gantt Center

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture celebrates brilliance in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent, commemorating the contributions of African-Americans and Africans to American culture. The center aspires to stir discussion and engagement that is enlightening, motivating and empowering.

[Related: Do you see yourself in the people who live in Brookhill Village? This photographer is making it happen]

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m.; Monday closed.
Price: $9 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, college students, teachers, children, military, members and groups.

Levine Museum of the New South

200 E. 7th St.

Levine Museum of The New South strengthens the community by bonding people with one another and with Charlotte through history, celebration and culture. The exhibits of the Levine museum provoke empathy, conversation and action.

Hours: Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday 12-5 p.m.
Price: $10 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, college students, teachers, children, military, members and groups.

McColl Center for Art + Innovation

721 N. Tryon St.

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McColl Center for Art + Innovation

The center is in a neo-Gothic church where it holds nine artist studios and more than 5,000 square feet of gallery space. The art center is devoted to joining art and artists with the community.

Hours: Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Price: Free.

Mint Museum Uptown

500 S. Tryon St.

The Mint Museum Uptown holds the internationally celebrated Craft + Design collection, and several other contemporary, American and European art collections. The building serves as art itself: Machado and Silvetti Associates designed the five-story, 145,000-square foot building. The museum pairs innovative exhibitions with stimulating architecture creating a unique experience for visitors.

Hours: Wednesday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.; Thursday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m.; Monday-Tuesday closed.
Price: $15 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, college students and  children.

[Related: How to have the ultimate staycation in Charlotte, from staying in a treehouse to blending your own wine]

Mint Museum Randolph

2730 Randolph Road

Mint Museum Randolph opened North Carolina’s first art museum in 1936. It is located in what was the original branch of the United States Mint. The museum houses intimate and inviting galleries, inviting visitors to become engrossed with ceramics, decorative arts, art of the ancient Americas, European and African art and other collections.

Hours: Wednesday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun 1-5 p.m.; Monday-Tuesday closed.
Price: $15 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, college students and  children.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

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NASCAR Hall of Fame

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive attraction that honors the history and heritage of NASCAR, including extraordinary NASCAR drivers, all-time crew chiefs and owners and other major NASCAR contributors. It welcomes and entertains race fans and non-fans with its artifacts and hands-on exhibits.

Hours: Wednesday-Monday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday closed.
Price: $25 for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for seniors, college students, children, military and members.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History

1500 East Garrison Blvd., Gastonia

The Schiele sparks curiosity and knowledge of both science and the natural world through its exhibits. It even has a T. Rex specimen display.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Price: $7 for museum entry and $5 for planetarium for adults; visit their site for discounted rates for children and members.

Wells Fargo Museum

401 South Tryon St.

The museum dives into the history of gold mining in North Carolina and the early stages of Wachovia Bank. It displays an 1889 Wachovia Bank Winston Salem branch model and a Concord stagecoach from the mid-19th century.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday-Monday closed.
Price: Free.

How to Save

  • The Schiele offers free general admission the second Tuesday of every month 4-8 p.m.
  • The Mint Museum Randolph and Mint Museum Uptown are both free on Wednesdays from 5-9pm. Tickets are valid for two days from the date of purchase. You must present the original receipt to the front desk on the second day or at the second location.
  • Levine Museum of the New South offers half off admission every Sunday.
  • If you have an EBT or WIC card, you can visit any Discovery Place museum for $1 per person. Show your benefits card to admissions to get the discount for up to six family members. Welcome participants may also purchase IMAX tickets for $5 per person and discounted parking is $8 per car.
  • If you have a Bank of America debit or credit card, you can receive one free admission the first full weekend of every month as part of the Museums on Us program. The Bechtler, the Harvey B. Gantt Center, the Levine Museum of the New South and both locations of the Mint Museum are participants in Charlotte. Bring your BofA card and your ID for entry.

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