NCSU’s Hidden Gem Plans For New Setting

Triangle Hidden Gems – NCSU’s Gregg Museum of Art and Design

By Melinda McKee

One of the Gregg's main galleries.

There are museums where visitors feel compelled to stand at a reverent distance; where they are expected to look but not touch; where they understand they’re gazing at the work of an elite club of creators.  Not so at the Gregg Museum, an institution on a mission to make art accessible.  Here, art is not held at a distance, but placed right in the palm of your hand.

Currently tucked away in NC State’s Talley Student Center, the Gregg Museum of Art and Design is perhaps one of the Triangle’s most under-discovered treasures. After visiting the second floor galleries (often accompanied by a cellphone-guided tour), know that your exploration has only just begun.  Above this rotating exhibit space, the third floor storerooms are home to a permanent collection of more than 20,000 fascinating works of art and design, including ceramics, furniture, sculptures, photography, and more than 5,000 textiles.

But the real treasure at the Gregg lies in its storerooms.

The best part?  To see these back-room beauties, all you need do is let them know you’re coming (preferably 1-2 days in advance). Gregg Museum staff will happily lead you on a tour behind the scenes, where most museums are closed to public. And if something particular has already struck your fancy (check out the museum’s online catalogue), they’ll have it ready and waiting for your discovery, white handling gloves and all.

The Gregg Museum excels in providing hands-on experiences for NC State’s future designers and artists, complementing programs in the Colleges of Design, Textiles, and beyond. This focus is intended to energize students, says museum director Roger Manley, “to show them they have the ability to achieve these same things.”

Archived pottery and textiles.

It’s not just for students, though; the Gregg Museum is all about making art accessible to anyone with a curious or creative streak. Manley continues: “People come to our shows to a feel a point of access, to see the connection between art and themselves.”

A Beautiful “New” Home

The Gregg museum is now pursuing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make its art even more available to the public. The historic Chancellor’s Residence on Hillsborough Street is set to be renovated as the museum’s new home, along with a new 16,800-square-foot addition. Preparing to move a collection of the museum’s size is no small task, acknowledges Manley. “It’s daunting to move 20,000 things, but it’s a chance to rethink what all we’re trying to accomplish.”

Once completed, the move will allow the Gregg Museum to fulfill its potential as never before. Portions of the permanent collection will finally be on display in the main building, along with a library and lecture room, while the new wing will house state-of-the-art galleries and classrooms. The beautifully landscaped outdoor areas may one day host concerts, film screenings, sculpture gardens, and more.

Museum leaders hope to begin the renovations and construction in Fall 2012, though they must raise $4.5 million for the project before breaking ground. For more information about contributing to the Gregg Museum Campaign, please visit their website.

Special Note: Our condolences go out to the family, friends and coworkers of Dr. Lynn Jones Ennis, associate director of the Gregg Museum. Dr. Ennis recently passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind a legacy of art and many fond memories. You can read more about her life here.

Melinda McKee is a nonprofit marketing specialist and creative arts enthusiast from Raleigh, NC.

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