Museums & Galleries
Venues Showcase Wilmington History and the Arts Scene
Wilmington is a melting pot of creative souls and a place where creativity, free expression and an independent spirit is nurtured. An abundance of museums featuring signature exhibitions and galleries supporting local and regional artists complement our storied history and thriving arts scene.
Visit North Carolina’s first history museum, the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science. From educational programs for children and families to a 20-foot-tall giant ground sloth exhibit, there is something for everyone to explore and learn at this museum. Step back in time and discover how life along the Cape Fear River has changed since Native American times with the Cape Fear Stories Exhibit, learn about Michael Jordan's early years and Wilmington roots in the Michael Jordan: Achieving Success exhibit, or peruse one of the Smithsonian-affiliate museum’s featured exhibits.
To get in touch with your creative side, celebrate the visual and performing arts at the Cameron Art Museum (CAM). The museum’s collection of fine arts, crafts and design includes works of historical and contemporary importance by regional, national and international artists and artisans. View works by North Carolina artists including Romare Bearden, Minnie Evans, Claude Howell and others. Visitors can learn art history, tour CAM’s numerous exhibitions and participate in events including concerts from local artists or talks with art experts. See outdoor artwork sculptures, including their newest permanent installation, "Boundless," which commemorates the United States Colored Troops who fought the Confederate Army and won the Battle of Forks Road in February of 1865 on the grounds of the museum. While on tour, stop by for a bite at the CAM café.
The Wilmington Railroad Museum is a “can’t miss” attraction for rail enthusiasts, offering an exceptional collection of train displays along with educational opportunities and tons of fun. Discover over 20 operating model trains, model layouts, a life-size caboose and a 100-year-old steam engine. Visitors can even build their own railroad!
Located in a renovated 19th-century horse stable in historic downtown, Art in Bloom Gallery presents an eclectic mix of original paintings, ceramics, sculpture, blown glass, stained-glass mosaics, photography, mobiles, jewelry, limited-edition prints and mixed media by internationally and nationally established and emerging artists. Visitors will be charmed by the original heart-pine ceiling and brick walls of the building that are mixed with modern-day technology such as interactive computer screens and WiFi displaying digital and physical art. Head outdoors to explore the courtyard that displays outdoor sculptures and is the site of seasonal special events.
Originally constructed in 1888, St. Andrews Church has been transformed into the Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews. The restored and refurbished space, located in the Brooklyn Arts District, now serves as an event venue that hosts art shows and vintage flea markets featuring one-of-a-kind pieces throughout the year.
If you’re a lover of wine and art, a stop to Bottega Art & Wine is a must. Artists, collectors, wine enthusiasts and beer connoisseurs regularly gather at the wine-bar-meets-gallery full of interesting spaces, sculptures and 3D art pieces featured inside and outside in the backyard courtyard.
New Elements Gallery has showcased the best of regional and national fine art and craft since 1985. At this historic downtown gallery, you’ll find exceptional, unique pieces that fit a variety of styles and just might be the perfect souvenir of your travels.
Painters and art enthusiasts should add Acme Art Studios to their itineraries. Comprised of 20 working studios and an in-house gallery, the studio features locally-produced paintings, photography and sculptures.
Downtown galleries, studios and art spaces open their doors to the public in an after-hours celebration of art and culture during Fourth Friday Gallery Nights. At your own pace, view exhibitions of various mediums including oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, metals, ceramics, music, mixed media and more. Many galleries invite their featured artists to attend the event and discuss their craft with patrons. Maps are available at all participating locations, including the Arts Council of Wilmington, or they can be found on the Arts Council’s website.
Wilmington's largest downtown arts festival, Orange Street ArtsFest invites visitors to explore oil and watercolor paintings, pottery, jewelry, wood, glass and paper creations from more than 80 artists from across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. The event also offers live entertainment, old-fashioned fair food and a wine and beer tent. Don’t miss out on "A Jewel of a Show!”
Appreciate the community arts by exploring the masterpieces making up Wilmington’s pedestrian art program. Permanent pieces include the iconic Venus Flytrap Sculpture located at the foot of Market and Water Streets and the Dram Tree Sculpture located on the Riverwalk in front of the Wilmington Convention Center. Other pieces currently on display include the Yellow Orbit and Navigator and True North, both of which can be found on the north end of the Riverwalk. The public sculptures program collection can be discovered on display throughout downtown Wilmington as you stroll the streets and browse shops on a self-guided tour.