There are many reasons to head a few hours north to Asheville, NC that don’t involve checking out the ever changing fall foliage.
Over the last 10 years, there have been new restaurants, hotels and attractions, along with additional nonstop flights added to the mix in this vibrant metropolitan area of almost 500,000 people.
Heck, if Asheville was a poker player, they would be holding the big stack right now. Visitors to Asheville all seem to say, “so many things to do, not enough time to do them all!”
As of last week, there is one more addition to the busy Downtown Asheville list of “things to do,”
The Asheville Art Museum, which just had it’s public opening on November, 14.
The $24 million, state-of-the-art facility covers 54,000 square feet and adds 70 percent more Collection gallery space. For the first time in the Museum’s history, it has the capacity to host major traveling exhibitions from nationally recognized museums. The expansion increases its physical space and dramatically increases its role as a community center, educational resource, economic engine for the region and cultural concierge for the region’s residents and visitors.
The museum is designed with both introducing and showcasing artwork from this region of North Carolina to locals and visitors to Asheville.
Working with local general contractor Beverly-Grant, local architecture firm ARCA Design, and New York-based architectural firm Ennead Architects, the project consisted of three main components:
The historic preservation of the Museum’s current North Wing (formerly the 1926 Pack Library) to house the new John & Robyn Horn Education Center and Frances Mulhall Achilles Art Library.
Renovation and new construction of the East Wing including two special exhibition halls (Appleby Foundation Hall and Explore Asheville Hall) and more Collection storage.
Entirely new construction of the West Wing with a stunning glass façade.
The museum is easily walked in a couple hours, and then you can go back to retake in your favorite exhibits or pieces.
Features of the new Museum:
-A rooftop sculpture terrace and Perspective Café offer gorgeous mountain views.
-The Oculus, a 15-foot viewing window in the SECU Collection Hall affords unmatched immersive city views and a place for reflection.
-Public art installations and programming on the Plaza.
-Wells Fargo ArtPLAYce, a hands-on creative space for people of all ages.
-The Windgate Foundation Atrium, a light-filled place to take in large-scale works of art.
-SECU Collection Hall’s 10 new galleries
“The new Asheville Art Museum is a warm and welcoming space on a personal level,” says Executive Director Pamela L. Myers. “There is something for everyone!”
The museum is airy, it’s open and easy to navigate.
Highlights Georgians will love:
A beautiful round glass orb outside the main entrance emphasizes the theme of inclusion. Henry Richardson created the orb sculpture, “Reflections on Unity” and he was present at the opening.
The museum is really affordable and accessible to all. Just $15 for admission and the AAM just announced a partnership with UNC Asheville where all degree-seeking students at the university will receive a free student membership. A museum of this quality would have an admission price of double in other cities.
Instagram lovers! Spots in and around the Museum are already some becoming some of the most “Instagrammable Spots” in Asheville.
Like many other Georgians, I’m curious about Appalachia. “Appalachia Now! An Interdisciplinary Survey of Contemporary Art in Southern Appalachia,” takes up two large spaces. See a boat with oars that moves when guests flip a switch, a staircase made of signed bricks holding images and words bringing to mind the connected stories, and a curio cabinet of sorts crafted by Ted Pope, which is stacked with tiny boxes and whimsical items. Other accessories from the region are made into works by artists with ties to the area. Guests can get interactive and open the boxes to explore the exhibit using all their senses.
Learn about artists associated with Black Mountain College, an Asheville institution that operated from 1933-57. The part of the collection has grown in recent years. Since 2017, it’s increased in size by 31.5%.
Relax… Don’t miss the Oculus. It’s a window to Asheville in that it’s a 15-foot window in the SECU Collection Hall on the third floor. it gives a great view of Asheville and Pack Square and you can get some fresh air.
Leave yourself enough time and make it a special week or a weekend in Asheville.
Also check out:
Black Mountain College Museum—this small, intimate Museum showcasing the history of Black Mountain College is now located across the street from the Asheville Art Museum. Since so much of the new art museum is tied to Black Mountain College history and works, this can’t be missed!
The Moogseum opened in August. Moog invented synthesizers used in music. You don’t have to be an audiophile or music expert to appreciate the Moogseum.
The Diana Wortham Theatre morphed into a three-venue complex (it’s connected to the Asheville Art Museum). The newly expanded 28,000-square-foot Wortham Center for the Performing Arts offers three distinct venue spaces. It re-opened in late September.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge – A full “chocolate menu” to enjoy. Chocolate specialist using carefully sourced beans to create truffles, bars and other sweets.
Where to stay:
Asheville’s Country Retreat, is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains just 15 minutes west of the urban center of Asheville. The twelve acres that house the estate at Engadine offer guests two lodging options to choose from:
-Choose from traditional B&B rooms in the historic Inn or in one of the modern and comfortable mountain cabins. Breakfast is provided each morning at the Inn, witch is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been restored and decorated to maintain its Victorian character and charm. It was converted to an inn in 1994 and has operated as one ever since. Rick and Tom, the Inn owners and entrepreneurs will take good care of you during your visit. Don’t miss breakfast!
Located at: 2630 Smokey Park Highway, Candler (Asheville), NC 28715, United States Phone: (828) 633-1110 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aloft Asheville Downtown
The Aloft Asheville Downtown hotel offers a great view of the mountains while being situated in the heart of downtown Asheville, within walking distance of shopping, restaurants, and art galleries Located at: 51 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 Phone: (828) 232-2838 www.marriott.com
Where to eat:
No trip to Asheville is complete without investigating its food and beverage options.
Good ole North Carolina BBQ at more than fair prices. A food truck offshoot, this casual barbecue joint serves smoked meats, Southern sides & desserts. They offer traditional BBQ fare, but also some unique takes on meats and sides. Don’t miss the BBQ Tempeh and Fried Cabbage!
Located at: 1320 Smokey Park Highway. Candler, NC 28715, Phone: (828) 633-6901
Top off your day in Downtown Asheville with a relaxing meal at Chestnut Chestnut is located across the street from the new Aloft Hotel on Biltmore Avenue and just up the street from The Orange Peel. Chestnut features local and seasonal flavors. Enjoy a signature Kale Salad, or some Lobster Bisque. There are Monday-Friday lunch specials, but locals tell me the Shrimp N’ Grits are amazing!
Located at: 48 Biltmore Avenue Asheville, NC 28801, Phone: (828) 575-2667
A side trip to walk around the local state university, UNC Asheville is a nice break from being downtown.
Rick’s take: The Asheville Art Museum is a great, and I mean great addition to downtown. This is a big city art museum, in the heart of Asheville.