A Look Inside the Asheville Art Museum
By Jason Tarr
In the heart of downtown Asheville, the Asheville Art Museum anchors the city's rich art and culture scene. The museum offers you a window into American art of the 20th and 21st centuries.
While the museum has been a fixture of downtown's Pack Square since 1948, it recently underwent a major, three-year, $24 million renovation, leading up to a grand reopening in November 2019. From it's glass exterior to its new exhibition halls, you'll discover the building is truly a work of art in and of itself!
The new state-of-the-art facility is 54,000 square feet and includes an added 70 percent more collection space. With that added space, the museum is attracting major national exhibitions here to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
How to Experience the Asheville Art Museum
From the moment you arrive at the front of the Asheville Art Museum, your immersive art experience begins. A dramatic, two-ton glass orb, "Reflections of Unity" by Henry Richardson, greets you in Pack Square.
When you enter the museum, you'll first step inside the beautiful Windgate Foundation Atrium. Here, you'll find large-scale works artfully presented against white walls illuminated by natural light flooding in from the large windows.
Wesley Clark, My Big Black America, 2015, stain, spray paint, latex, and salvaged wood
The galleries are spread out throughout the museum, including on the ground floor level and upstairs. The largest area is the museum's SECU Collection Hall. As you explore the works in this area, make sure to see The Oculus, a 15-foot viewing window providing an elevated view of Pack Square and College and Broadway Streets.
Rick Beck, Dawn, 2001, glass, steel, and wood.
On the second floor, families will enjoy the Wells Fargo ArtPLAYce, which offers a hands-on creative space. Here, the museum's youngest visitors can explore colors, shapes, textures, and patterns. You can move and play, sit and enjoy a book, try out a variety of one-of-a-kind interactives created by regional artists, or make art of your own. In other words, the Art PLAYce is the perfect place to disconnect from the outside world.
After exploring all the art, head upstairs to enjoy the mountain view from the rooftop sculpture terrace and Perspective café. The café serves up locally sourced food and beverages with expansive views of the mountains and sculpture terrace. Check out the current menu.
Donald Sultan, Big Yellow Poppies, 2015, painted aluminum.
Asheville Art Museum Upcoming Exhibitions
Here's a look at just a handful of the impressive exhibitions on tap. See the Asheville Art Museum's full list of upcoming exhibitions.
- A Living Language (November 19, 2021-March 14, 2022): The exhibition showcases the work of more than 30 Native American artists to highlight the use of the Cherokee language, a syllabary developed by Cherokee innovator Sequoyah.
- A Hand in Studio Craft (January 19, 2022-June 27, 2022): At the center of this exhibition is Harvey Littleton, known as the founder of the Studio Glass Movement in the United States. He and his wife Bess collected artwork by their fellow artists and amassed quite a collection. This exhibition places the Littleton’s collection into the context of their lives, as they moved around the United States, connected with other artists, and developed their own work.
- American Perspectives (June 18, 2022-September 5, 2022): The work of more than 80 folk and self-taught artists serve as powerful testimonies to chapters in the unfolding story of America from its inception to present.
Asheville Art Museum Important Information
- $15 adults
- $13 adult discounted admission (senior 65+, groups**)
- $10 student discounted admission (child 6–17, degree-seeking college students with valid ID)
- Free for active military, UNCA students, museum members and children under 6 years of age.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (open until 9 p.m. Thursdays). Closed Tuesdays.
Location: 2 South Pack Square, Asheville (Downtown Asheville)
Parking: The museum does not have its own parking lot. There is parking in the nearby city-owned parking garages and there is metered street parking.
Insider Tip: The museum stays open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays – perfect for catching sunsets on the rooftop sculpture terrace while sipping a drink!