Wilmington’s lively art scene beckons art-lovers of all ages, boasting numerous museums, local art galleries, a historic theater and a variety of musical experiences and special events. Peruse unique works from local artists, indulge in a performance from the symphony or catch a show. No matter how you and your family choose to engage with the arts and culture, you’ll find there is plenty to discover in Wilmington.
Exhibits to Explore
Cameron Art Museum houses six to eight annual rotating exhibits in addition to outdoor works on the property’s historic Civil War Site. Boundless, the life-size bronze sculpture found in the outdoor park, commemorates the United States Colored Troops, the African American soldiers who fearlessly fought in the Civil War on the very spot where the sculpture stands today. It seeks to educate visitors on the untold history of these men and their contributions to the war. Inside the museum you’ll also find “State of the Art,” an exhibition showcasing contemporary art by artists currently living in, or native to, North Carolina.
Learn more about the area’s history and culture at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science. Kids and adults will be delighted to meet the 20-foot-tall giant ground sloth replica, investigate the hands-on Space Place (where you can try on an astronaut suit!), experience the Michael Jordan Discovery Gallery and explore special exhibits.
Historic House Museums
Discover Wilmington’s rich history on display at one of the state’s most spectacular examples of early 1800s architecture, the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design. The 10,000-square-foot house features Greek Revival, Neoclassical and Italian architectural styles and hosts rotating events and exhibits throughout the home. Explore the entire mansion with a self-guided tour from basement to belvedere.
Get a glimpse of upper-class life in Victorian Wilmington at the Latimer House, a historic house museum originally built in 1852. Enjoy a guided tour to learn about three generations of the Latimer family who used to live in the house’s 11 rooms and view more than 600 historic objects, including furniture, jewelry, ephemera, tableware and tools.
Wake up and smell the roses – literally – at Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens. Originally built in the 1770s, the house features rooms furnished with 18th and 19th century antiques and showcases hundreds of rare objects. The four-level, Colonial-style terrace gardens are open year-round for all to enjoy.
Connect with local artists at Acme Art Studios, home to 20 working studios and an in-house gallery. Browse paintings, photography and sculptures that highlight the unique spirit of Wilmington, and maybe even take a piece or two home with you to commemorate your trip.
Art in Bloom Gallery showcases artwork from internationally and nationally established as well as emerging artists. Peruse the mix of original paintings, ceramics, sculptures, blown-glass, stained-glass mosaics, photography, mobiles, jewelry, limited-edition prints and mixed media.
Check out New Elements Gallery, which has displayed the work of more than 60 regionally- and nationally-recognized artists since 1985. Or, grab a glass of wine at Bottega Art & Wine to enjoy while you peruse the selection of art and jewelry both inside and outdoors in their courtyard.
Peruse more local galleries during Fourth Friday Gallery Nights. From 6-9 p.m. on the fourth Friday of each month, art enthusiasts can stroll through art galleries, museums, coffee shops, breweries, restaurants and more that display rotating art exhibits. Many galleries also have the featured artists in attendance to discuss their work in more detail.
Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts, one of the oldest and most beautiful theaters in America, is a must-see for fans of the performing arts. Established in 1858, this theater hosts more than 500 performance events annually with three main performance venues inside. Find out what’s playing soon by checking out the full list of performances on their website. Plus, make time for a behind-the-scenes tour for an in-depth discovery of the theater’s rich history, renovation and performances – both past and present.
The largest and most technologically advanced performance center in Eastern North Carolina, The Wilson Center features the best of Broadway, comedy, dance and concerts. Get tickets for a stunning ballet performance of “Beauty and the Beast” on June 4-5, Beethoven Triple Concerto from the North Carolina Symphony on June 8, the Blue Man Group’s show on July 5-6 and “Weird Al” Yankovic coming August 12. The beloved Wilmington Symphony Orchestra also frequently performs here. Find a list of upcoming shows on their website.
Originally an iconic church built in 1888, Brooklyn Arts Center + the Annex has been restored and refurbished. The anchor for the Brooklyn Arts District, it now serves as a spectacular multi-use event venue that hosts art shows and vintage flea markets throughout the year.
The Cucalorus Festival is one of the largest American film festivals in the South and was recognized by Movie Maker Magazine as “One of the Coolest Film Festivals in the World.” Join the tens of thousands of world travelers who come to Wilmington to celebrate the arts and experience more than 120 worldwide films being showcased, as well as a diverse selection of stage performances and over 50 events including panels, speakers and workshops.
Wilmington is brimming with opportunities to explore the area’s various forms of art and those who create it. Plan your trip to Wilmington today to immerse yourself in the arts and discover the area’s rich culture. For more local arts and culture, check out offerings in nearby Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach.