by Jessie Ammons
At this point in August, the pool is old news. Why not enjoy the last days of summer alfresco at the North Carolina Museum of Art instead? The Museum Park has a handful of must-see new outdoor works installed this past spring, including an interactive sculpture and trail-side billboards designed by local students.
“Art is about understanding our human nature and also the nature of the world around us,” says Dan Gottlieb, director of museum planning and design and the Museum Park. “Moving art outdoors and outside is an extension of that.”
One example is Totem, a whimsical fountain sculpture by Tim Hawkinson featuring bronze jugs with water-spouting faces. The artist is a “combination artist-scientist-intuitive engineer,” says NCMA chief curator Linda Dougherty.
Gottlieb says that viewing art like this piece outside causes less anxiety. “It’s a more social experience,” he says, and not something we should take for granted. “We are blessed with a very, very unusual asset for an art museum: a large tract of land. In all the pastoral ways that you might enjoy a park, you can enjoy ours. There’s just art along the way.”
If you’ve got kids in tow, the Aug. 22 Family Fun Saturday is a great way to explore our art-dappled Museum Park. After a gallery tour, you can create a journal with secret compartments to take on your excursion. “I think one of the great things about having art outside is that people encounter it without really thinking about it being art,” Dougherty says. “It’s easier to expose people to nontraditional forms of art outside, because it’s in a more relaxed setting.”
The museum’s outdoor concert and movie lineup is also worth adding to your August calendar. Every Friday or Saturday – and sometimes both – a movie plays on a big-screen in the museum amphitheatre. (While the movies are mostly family-friendly, a few R-rated titles are on the docket, too.) Then, on Aug. 29, The Mavericks, a roots-rock-country band with a Latin twist, will take the stage. Bring a picnic and plan to buy beer and wine at the park.
Learn more about the Museum Park’s latest additions and its summer concert and movie schedule at ncartmuseum.org.