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Best Free Museums in Raleigh/Durham

By: Cityseeker
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North Carolina Museum of Art

One of the leading art museums of the American South, the North Carolina Museum of Art opened in 1956 as the first in the nation established with public state funds. More than 40 galleries here are home to a permanent collection of paintings, artifacts, and sculptures spanning the history of art from antiquity to the present day. Visitors can see paintings of the European Renaissance, Egyptian funerary artifacts, and contemporary international works of art, among others. An amphitheater hosts outdoor performances, and a museum park features more than a dozen major site-specific works surrounded by forests and fields.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Gregg Museum of Art & Design

With an extravagant collection of over 20,000 exhibits, the Gregg Museum of Art & Design is a cultural treasure trove. The magnanimous collection includes photography, architectural drawings, paintings, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, self-taught art, modern furniture, Native American and tribal art. There are six to eight exhibitions throughout the year, as well as workshops, film screenings and other programs.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Explore the natural wonders of North Carolina, from the depths of its ocean to its rocky mountains. Complete with a 20-foot (6-meter) waterfall, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science has much to offer. See North Carolina as it was, in a re-creation of six prehistoric habitats. This is home to the only Acorcanthosaurus skeleton discovered in the world, and Willo, the first dinosaur found with a fossilized heart. The Discovery Room is full of interactive exhibits. Looking for that perfect gift? The Nature Gallery has original nature-themed artwork available. There is a restaurant on site. General admission is free of charge. There is a cover charge for special exhibits. Children under 13 years must be accompanied by an adult. The Discovery Room, Naturalist Center, and Living Conservatory remain closed on Mondays.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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North Carolina Museum of History

Founded in 1902, this museum is committed to exploring and preserving North Carolina's historical heritage. Among the permanent exhibits here are the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, a history of the state’s role in the creation of funk music, and the expansive Story of North Carolina, a major exhibit tracing life in the state from the time of its first inhabitants through the 20th Century. The museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibits, and a large collection of regional costumes and furnishings.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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City of Raleigh Museum

The City of Raleigh Museum celebrates the history and legacy of Raleigh, from the days of its first inhabitants to those of a 21st-century capitol. The museum was founded in 1993 with initiatives from local historians, and is guided by a mission to store historical artifacts, preserve the city’s past, and urge visitors to contemplate the city’s legacy and future. Visitors can explore the history of Raleigh through 200 years of artifacts and images, including testimonials of Raleigh’s World War II veterans, a history of Raleigh in maps, and an exhibit dedicated to Morgan Latta, a former slave who gained his freedom and established a Raleigh industrial school.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Artspace

Located at City Market in downtown Raleigh, Artspace is a visual art center dedicated to engaging the local community in visual arts with hands on, interactive education and exhibits. The center provides studio space, exhibits, and a rich program of classes, workshops, lectures, and community events. More than 40 artists work in the space’s open studios. Admission to the center and exhibits is free, while classes require fees and registration.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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