University Museums Offer Exhibitions and Programs Families Will Enjoy

Family-friendly exhibits and programs from local colleges and universities.
Nasher Kids In Gallery Credit J Caldwell 1
Photo by J. Caldwell
Kid-friendly programming at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University includes Bilingual Storytime and Creative Workshop.

By presenting top-notch collections on a smaller scale, these university art museums provide families valuable opportunities to take an intimate look at art from our region and beyond.

Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill


“Step Right Up”­ ­– through August 31, 2019

Chapel Hill-based artist Patrick Dougherty created this outdoor installation after taking inspiration from an ancient pouring vessel he observed in the galleries. He used tree saplings harvested from Duke Forest and Triangle Land Conservancy to make these sculptures. Dougherty has crafted over 280 environmental works around the world and has won many awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

“The Outwin: American Portraiture Today” – June 1-Aug. 26, 2018

This touring exhibition showcases works selected for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery’s juried 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Viewers can see work by artist Amy Sherald, who recently gained recognition for creating the official portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. Sherald held her first solo exhibition in 2011 at UNC-CH’s Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.


Art Adventures. Hands-on art classes for 6-9-year-olds. Morning and afternoon sessions on various dates. $5/child; free for members.

Drawing for Tweens. Drawing classes for 10-13-year-olds. Morning sessions on various dates. $5/child; free for members.

Family and Friends Sunday. Scavenger hunts, hands-on art-making and art games. Scheduled for various afternoons. Free.

Register at

Gregg Museum of Art & Design, North Carolina State University


“Bob Trotman: Business as Usual” – through July 8, 2018

NSCU hosts the largest exhibition of Bob Trotman’s kinetic work, which satirizes corporate business and high finance. Trotman adopts techniques used by medieval artists to depict saints, and techniques used by commercial artists to make cigar-store sculptures. He also offers commentary on the world of work. Some of the sculptures emit noise or move when guests trip their motion sensors.

“Design Duet: The Creative Lives of Robert Black and Ormond Sanderson” – through Sept. 9, 2018

Robert Black and Ormond Sanderson were known not only for presenting modern design to the South in the 1960s, but also for creating their own art. This exhibition showcases Black’s collage paintings and stonewares, and Sanderson’s etched and glazed enamels.


Design Camp. Multidiscipline, pre-college design program organized by the NCSU Design Lab for middle and high school students. Offered various weeks in June and July. $650-$1,200.

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University


“Odili Donald Oditi Murals” – through July 29, 2018

The Nasher Museum of Art commissioned two mural paintings by abstract artist Odili Donald Oditi, one of which is in the museum’s Mary D.B.T. Semans Great Hall; the other of which is on the Foster Street wall of the Downtown Durham YMCA. The gallery painting, “Shadow and Light (for Julian Francis Abele),” pays homage to the African-American architect who designed much of Duke University’s campus.

“Sculpture Loans” – through July 1, 2018

“Untitled” by abstract artist Katharina Grosse is on display on the museum’s front lawn. The work comes from the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection and was created in 2013 from acrylic on fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

“John Akomfrah: Precarity” – through Sept. 2, 2018

A three-channel video installation by John Akomfrah, a London-based artist and filmmaker, this work explores New Orleans through the life of Charles “Buddy” Bolden, whose musical explorations gave rise to jazz.


Bilingual Storytime. 11 a.m.-noon on various dates. Spanish/English storytime and hands-on activity for children ages 1-5. Free.

Creative Workshop. 10:15 a.m.-noon on various dates. Drop-in creative workshop for kids ages 5-10. Free. (Museum admission is always free for ages 15 and younger).

A former Ackland Art Museum employee, Catherine Brown is grateful to write about her old stomping ground for this article. She currently spends most of her time writing about fascinating people, art, theater, parenting, education, health and fitness.


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