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The Mint Museums

by Phil Kline

September 4,2005

The Mint Museums are the region’s premier visual arts museums, with an impressive history of community service, and the potential for dramatically increasing the ability to deliver exceptional exhibitions and education programming through the expansion plans now underway. The Mint Museum of Art opened as North Carolina’s first art museum in 1936 and underwent major expansions in 1967 and 1985. The Mint Museum of Craft + Design opened in 1999 after Bank of America’s generous donation of a building. The Museums are collecting institutions with more than 28,000 art works that are held as part of our public trust to the community. Artistic focus areas are American Art (notably the work of Romare Bearden), Ceramics, Contemporary Art, Contemporary Craft, Historic Costume and Pre-Columbian Art.

Exhibitions of the collection are complemented by national touring exhibitions, which allow us to bring art works that would not otherwise be available to the community. This fall we will continue the tradition of great traveling exhibitions with Renaissance to Rococo: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Wadsworth Anthenum Museum of Art at the Art Museum and Don Reitz:Clay, Fire, Salt and Wood at the Craft + Design Museum. Exhibitions are supported by award-winning education programs that serve all ages from pre-school to seniors. For example every fifth-grade public school student and many private school students participate in a curriculum-based program Deciphering and Investigating Great Societies (DIGS) that utilizes our outstanding Pre-Columbian collection. Program opportunities and more information can be found at our website: www.mintmuseum.org.

The Mint Museums are a component of the Cultural Facilities Plan that is being coordinated by the Arts & Science Council with support from the private sector and elected officials of the Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. The proposal for The Mint Museums will allow us to gain the critically needed space for galleries, education programs, visitor services and storage.

Wachovia has generously offered to include the proposed new center city art museum of The Mint Museums in a mixed-used development on South Tryon Street. Bank of America has also stepped forward to support this proposal by offering to buy the current Craft + Design building. This wonderful collaboration will allow The Mint Museums to gain the much needed incremental space while co-locating the Craft + Design collection with the new museum thus enhancing the visitors experience through expanded offerings.

The new center city museum will include the artistic focus areas of American Art including African American Art, Contemporary Art and Contemporary Craft as well as African Art and European Art. The museum will also host many of the major traveling exhibitions and will create the opportunity to bring larger exhibitions both in terms of number and scale of works. The Mint Museum of Art will continue to operate at the Randolph Road site focusing on the collection areas of Ceramics, Historic Costume and Pre-Columbian Art along with Spanish Colonial, Coins and Currency and Asian Art. Each of the artistic focus areas have strong support groups and associated education programs to ensure their continued success.

Planning for the new museum is underway to create wonderful experiences for our visitors. The increased gallery space will allow the display of more of the permanent collection in addition to providing a venue for expanded offerings of national and international exhibitions. Expanded educational space will support increased programming to better serve the community. Visitor services will be enhanced with a café, retail shop, library, auditorium, coatroom and event space that either does not currently exist or is limited.

The Mint Museums are committed to providing the community with the opportunity to view incredible works through both our permanent collection presentations and touring exhibitions from other major institutions. We are equally committed to offering programming to engage all ages in the ability to learn and appreciate the impact of the visual arts.

The Mint Museums are supported by a dedicated staff, an engaged Board of Trustees and Advisory Board, an Arts & Science Council, individual and corporate sponsors, and eight affiliate groups with more than 2200 members.  We encourage you to visit the Museums to enjoy the rewarding experience of the visual arts!

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