Alabama, famous for its mountain and coastal beauty, also features some highly recommendable museums that will not break your budget. Experience local history, art and science at these stunning establishments that won’t leave a hole in your wallet!
Experience Western North Carolina’s history, the misty Appalachian Mountains and visit a museum dedicated to the Wright Brothers’ flight history.
The North Carolina Museum of Art
The North Carolina Museum of Art is an exceptional contemporary arts museum that has something for everyone. Offering international exhibitions, interactive spaces, live performances and educational programs for all ages. Additionally, its impressive holdings span multiple time periods and styles of art. Beginning as early as 1947 when North Carolina General Assembly approved $1 million to purchase paintings using public funds to form its permanent art collection – one of the first states using such funds – its collection has since expanded substantially with over 1000 Rodin sculptures alone in Southeast along with Egyptian funerary art pieces as well as Old Master paintings from Europe!
The museum holds impressive modern art collections, containing works by Franz Kline and Lyonel Feininger among others. Additionally, American modernism such as Richard Diebenkorn and Andrew Wyeth can also be found here. Additionally, there is also a small but distinguished group of paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters such as Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Jan Steen and Jacob van Ruisdael housed within this museum’s walls.
The museum boasts an extensive collection of British portraits by such artists as Paul van Somer and Sir William Beechey, in addition to religious art ranging from altarpieces and devotional artworks by Italian Renaissance masters such as Titian and Raphael.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is an award-winning four-story museum in downtown Raleigh that goes far beyond being just an exhibition hall. As the largest museum of its kind in Southeast, visitors are given an unparalleled experience to explore their world through exhibits, research projects and animals at this premier natural history institution. Plus there’s three Investigate Labs so visitors can delve deeper into nature!
The Museum features many exhibits that highlight both North Carolina’s past and present nature, as well as regular events dedicated to certain topics – like its Science Cafe series of events. Many events are targeted towards adults but some also allow children to attend. Attendance at such events is a great way for visitors to gain knowledge on topics like dinosaur venom and natural sciences research.
Popular attractions at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences include its Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit, which showcases two buried dinosaur skeletons (T. Rex and Triceratops). There’s also Ice Age Giants which displays fossilized remains from animals that lived during North Carolina’s Ice Age period.
The Museum is an ideal destination for families visiting North Carolina on vacation, with activities tailored specifically to children available free of charge at the venue. Families will find plenty to keep their kids occupied throughout their visit!
The North Carolina Museum of History
The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh is one of the largest state museums in the United States. Its 20,000-square-foot permanent “Story of North Carolina” exhibit traces 14,000 years of state history while also hosting rotating special exhibits.
The Museum Park expands the traditional museum experience through an ecologically sustainable landscape of gardens, forest, and meadows that combine art, nature and people in an immersive experience. Site-specific works of art appear throughout this 164-acre Park while temporary and permanent works by both site artists as well as permanent pieces can also be seen throughout it. Recently completed was a yearlong project to unify campus with tree-lined parking spots for visitors, contemporary gardens and a promenade linking the Park with galleries – an experience unparalleled anywhere else!
Visitors to the museum can also tour two full-size historic houses and visit its acclaimed Research Library containing over three million items such as books, manuscripts, photographs, maps and films – helping scholars and students alike uncover new avenues of research for generations.
Tar Heel Junior Historian Association is one of the Museum’s most successful outreach programs, engaging and empowering youth to discover local and state history through hands-on discovery projects. Students may share their projects with fellow THJHA members and the general public; membership in THJHA is free for kids in grades four through twelve with at least one adult advisor present; we also provide learning packets and video history online for participants to enjoy!
The North Carolina Museum of Transportation
The North Carolina Museum of Transportation is an engaging historical site showcasing all forms of transportation history – railroading, automobile, aviation and more! Situated at Southern Railway’s Spencer Shops – once one of Southeast’s premier locomotive repair facilities – guests can ride an authentic heritage railroad during their visit; other events hosted at this historical venue include beer festivals and wine tastings as well as scenic train excursions! Plus it boasts an extensive collection of antique vehicles!
The museum features several historic structures, such as the Barber Junction Depot built in 1898 that now serves as its visitor center, Bob Julian Roundhouse which houses locomotives, rail cars and Doris from 1976, as well as its massive Back Shop which once housed locomotive repairs before becoming home for an exhibit on how steam engine became diesel and full size replica of Wright Flyer aircrafts.
The museum exhibits also explore law enforcement and traffic safety development over time. A notable exhibit features artifacts recovered from Confederate blockade runner Modern Greece that was sunk by Union Navy forces in Cape Fear River 1862; another impressive showcase examines changing technology within local law enforcement agencies.
The North Carolina Coast Guard Museum
From the piercing whirl of a stern-wheel steamboat to an air conditioning unit’s soothing hum, the North Carolina Coast Guard Museum in Elizabeth City brings 10,000 years of local history alive. Discover about American Indians, watermen, fishermen and craftspeople that shaped a region characterized by close proximity to one of the world’s largest freshwater sounds.
From its exterior, this facility resembles a classic coastal cottage or boat house; inside are exhibits that chronicle both its rich past and its modern global service mission. Displays showcase how the Coast Guard works to protect Americans shipping and sailors while safeguarding our natural environment through themes like Aids to Navigation, Maritime Investigations and Oil Spill Response and Cleanup.
Lifesaving Station Wing visitors can tour an original 1904 shad boat, while Boat Shed visitors can admire a selection of traditional working watercraft. Additionally, visitors to the museum can explore historic artifacts and displays related to watercraft from 1904, while Boat Shed visitors can look at various traditional working watercrafts. Coastal natives may enjoy exploring exhibits showcasing local wildlife – venomous snakes and hermit crabs among them! For those interested in seeing things from an alternate angle there’s even an exclusive periscope offering stunning views over Lower Cape Fear River area! Admission is always free and open year-round – perfect!
The North Carolina Rural Life Museum
Kenly, North Carolina was home to this museum which first opened its doors in 1983 in order to attract tourists traveling through the area. For its inaugural year of operation, it offered guided tobacco farm tours – these proved so popular that over time the museum expanded further with barn, kitchen, farmhouse kitchen, smokehouse and farmstead additions as well as educational family programs and events such as their annual corn shucking frolic!
Attractions at the museum include an authentic tobacco farmstead displaying antique pieces of farm equipment. There is also a barn, chicken coop, washroom and dairy barn on-site as well as exhibits relating to other agricultural practices in Eastern North Carolina as well as daily life exhibits.
As well as offering traditional farmstead exhibits, the museum features an impressive collection of log homes. Visitors can explore Davis House – an example of one built using chestnut wood before its decimation by chestnut blight – or visit other exhibits including log apple barn, springhouse and blacksmith shop.
Another unique part of the museum is its collection of antique tractors and agricultural machinery, with visitors even having the option of trying their luck at plowing with an old wooden tractor! Additionally, there is a one-room schoolhouse which regularly hosts heritage days or community events; plus there’s an Oliver Nestus Freeman Roundhouse as an impressive tribute to African-American history.