The Ackland Art Museum, one of the incredible nonprofit organizations in our community, educates and enriches the lives of adults, students, and teachers. Not every college town is lucky enough to have a world-class university art museum, but since we all have one – with free admission – right in our own back yard, we can take advantage of all the ways that it can both educate us and provide us with great enjoyment.

For adults, the Ackland offers diverse opportunities to engage with art. Yoga instruction and drawing classes take place right in the Museum’s galleries, allowing participants to be inspired by the art surrounding them. Through lively group discussions, Art and Literature in the Galleries broadens appreciation for and explores the relationships between the art on view and specially selected books. Tea at Two and Art for Lunch programs bring in scholars who provide inspiration and information about works in the Ackland’s collection. The Ackland Film Forum, a collaboration between the Ackland and various departments at UNC-Chapel Hill, screens art films, narrative films, and documentaries at the Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street. More information about all of these programs can be found at:

For the younger set, the Ackland’s programs for K-12 students are exceptional. 

Ackland educators talk with teachers ahead of time to present an interactive, interesting program that will engage students. One 3rd grade teacher recently observed of her class’s visit to the Ackland:


[The Ackland docent] used great vocabulary and interacted with each child in the lessons. Language was on their level and easy to understand. Loved the inquiry; lots of great questions. Kids thoroughly enjoyed the activity. It gave them an opportunity to be valued and validated.


The Ackland also welcomes opportunities to design a sequence of museum visits for a class during the academic year; the Chapel Hill Homeschoolers have been doing monthly programs with the Ackland for the past several years.

One Chapel Hill teacher described it this way:  “I was impressed by the ease with which you scheduled us, and stunned by the fact that you sent outreach educators in advance.  Thanks to your volunteers, who were both accepting and understanding of our youngsters, many of whom have never been inside an art museum!  We went straight to art class upon our return, and the art teacher said my class was full of enthusiasm.”

Leaders of local camps, afterschool programs, scout troops, mentoring groups, and other organizations may also consult with Ackland educators to create tours and activities custom-tailored for the needs and interests of their group.  

The Ackland offers wonderful customized docent-led tours at the museum, curriculum kits, and online resource materials, and bus scholarships to defray the cost of getting to the museum. Ackland educators also visit classrooms prior to a museum visit, with great success. One high school teacher commented: “We were so impressed with our classroom visit. We loved the PowerPoint, hands-on materials and especially the care and attention provided!! The visits (both in-house and at the Ackland) were fabulous.  They far exceeded our expectations.”  

The Ackland also provides professional development training for teachers, including free multi-day workshops for teachers. For more information, go to:

Outside of school visits, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to enjoy art at the Ackland. Programs such as Art Adventures (6- to 9-year-olds) and Drawing for Tweens (10- to 13-year-olds) include some time exploring works of art in the galleries with a docent, followed by hands-on time in a studio making art that builds upon their gallery experience.  Kids can build museum memories with the special grown-ups in their lives at the Ackland’s monthly Family Day — a Creation Station, family tours, story time, and treasure hunts through the galleries allow families to choose the ways they want to have fun while experiencing art. All Family Day activities are free. Music in the Galleries – a free program for all ages – is a kid-pleaser, too. On Sunday, June 17 at 2:00 pm, Tea Cup Gin will play jazz and show tunes from the early 20th century.

So stop by the Ackland this summer and enjoy a little jazz, world-class art, and terrific programming.  We truly are so fortunate to have the Ackland in our community.