Education is definitely important, but you can’t always learn everything from school. So where exactly can you learn more? Museums! Charlotte, North Carolina, and the surrounding area is home to a wide variety of museums ranging from art to planes, trains, and automobiles. We have compiled a list of our favorites that we think you might enjoy. (Business hours may vary. Make sure to always call ahead or check times before heading to the museum.)
Mint Museum: The Mint Museums is a perfect museum when it comes to engaging the community and people of all ages. The Mint Museum Uptown activates your little ones experiences in the galleries by providing drawing spaces, writing opportunities, and hands-on activities and games. Those activities put in place are not only to provide fun but also to be a learning experience by connecting activity to the art exhibitions. At the Mint Museum on Randolph, kids have the opportunity to interact with the art by answering fun quiz questions located near the artworks and investigating the art with the use of the Gallery Activity Totes located all throughout the museum on pegs. In addition, the Mint Museums provide various events and programs geared towards families, teens, and children on different exhibitions held throughout the year. The Mint Museums are free to everyone on Wednesdays from 5 pm to 9 pm. Make sure to go and check the Mint Museum website for more information.
Locations: 500 South Tryon Street Charlotte, NC 28202 (Uptown) 2730 Randolph Road Charlotte, NC 28207 (Randolph)
PC: Mint Museum
Bechtler Museum: The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art thrives through their mission: “sharing the joy and excellence of the Bechtler collection with all in order to inspire, inform and enhance cultural and intellectual life”. The Bechtler provides exhibitions that can make you question the artist’s intent and inspire your children to create. Among their several programs, the Bechtler Museum holds a handful of family days. Family days include museum tours, hands-on art activities, and much more. And no need to worry, these days are typically held from noon to 4 pm (no reservation required). The Bechtler Museum every third Friday of the month offers free admission from 5 pm to 9 pm. For more dates and more information visit their website.
Location: 420 South Tryon Street Charlotte, NC 28202
PC: Bechtler Museum
Wells Fargo Museum: The Wells Fargo Museum is not what you think it is; it is an interactive museum that highlights North Carolina’s history during the gold rush of the 1800s and very briefly their beginning as the Wachovia Bank. The museum exhibits four main parts such as a stagecoach that you can climb and explore on, an interactive telegraph, a representation of an underground gold mine tunnel, and gold nuggets to those that miners would have found. The best part is the museum is absolutely free for you and your family to experience.
Location: 401 South Tryon Street Charlotte, NC 28202
PC: Wells Fargo Museum
Levine Museum of the New South: The Levine Museum of the New South is located in uptown Charlotte. The museum is one of the most intuitive and interactive exhibits that Charlotte has to offer. The museum shows our nation’s post- Civil War Southern history in a way that our children can comprehend the tragedies and hopes of our history, yet still, stay engaged. With or without a guide, the Levine Museum of the New South is one of the bests. Make sure to check out their community event calendar to see what programs they have for the month. Unfortunately, the Levine Museum of the New South does not have a free admission day, but they have 50% off of Sunday admission.
Location: 200 East Seventh Street Charlotte, NC 28202
PC: Levine Museum of the New South
Charlotte Museum of History: The Charlotte Museum of History is exactly what the name says. The museum has plenty of different combinations on what you can see and how you see them. You can start your visit with a guided tour of the museum exhibits: Rock House Mysteries and Charlotte Neighborhoods and as you go through the exhibits, your children can do the gallery scavenger hunt. During your visit, you can do a guided tour of the Hezekiah Alexander home, be captivated by the living history programs, or riveted by their various presentation topics of the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution Liberty and the founding of the US Civil War.
Location: 3500 Shamrock Drive Charlotte, NC 28215
PC: Charlotte Museum of History
Schiele Museum of Natural History: The Schiele Museum of Natural History is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution that exhibits Smithsonian artifacts and materials from time to time. The museum features a vast collection of animal species, from small to ginormous mammals. They house five permanent galleries and two outdoor recreations of an 18th-century farm and a native American village. The Schiele Museum has too many programs to mention, however, they currently have a prehistoric adventure, Dinosafari, now open for the whole family to explore. The museum is free on the second Tuesday of the month from 4 pm to 8 pm. Be sure to check out their website for all programming of the museum.
Location: 1500 East Garrison Boulevard Gastonia, NC 28054
PC: Schiele Museum of Natural History
North Carolina Transportation Museum: The NC Transporation Museum is a full day experience on a 60-acre site with various exhibits and plenty of special events. The 60-acre site has decommissioned trains, airplanes and one of a kind automobiles. The museum has 5 buildings open to the public for visitors to experience the different historical themed exhibits, the giant turntables that can fit a whole train, and when you finally get tired of walking you can take a 25-minute ride on a train. Not to mention, the museum still functions as a railroad as a stop across the state. Make sure to check their calendar for more information about their special events.
Location: 411 South Salisbury Avenue Spencer, NC 28159
PC: North Carolina Transportation Museum
Carolinas Aviation Museum: The Carolinas Aviation Museum is also a Smithsonian Affiliate, so you know it is worth a trip to visit. The museum is 100% for hands-on experiences such as sitting in the cockpit of a Cessna 150, acting out the training procedures for a Boeing 727 or F14 Fighter Jet, and experiencing a simulator of the Wright Flyer. If hands-on doesn’t intrigue you, then the up close and personal history of engineers, pilots, and historic aircraft might appeal to you. Last, but not least the museum offers a variety of educative programs for all ages.
Location: 4672 First Flight Drive Charlotte, NC 28208
PC: Carolinas Aviation Museum
Harvey B Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture: The Harvey B Gantt Center is located in the heart of the Uptown Charlotte in a 4 story building that cultivates the preservation and celebration of African- American art, culture, and history. The different exhibits that are shown at the Harvey B Gantt ignite conversations and engage the community to stay informed about the past and present of Charlotte’s African- American history. The museum holds several special events, so make sure to check their website calendar for more information.
Location: 551 South Tryon Street Charlotte, NC 28202
PC: Harvey B Gantt Center
Museum of Waxhaws: The Museum of Waxhaws is only open to the public with field trips and tours three days a week. Although they are only open for three days, the museum aims to preserve the knowledge of the Waxhaw Indians and other local tribes that used the land for survival. The museum provides tours of how the land was used, knowledgeable actors are spread around the buildings as informative reenactments of the people who were once there, and an introductory video in the main building to give visitors insight about the museum. Before we forget to mention, visitors can visit the former Andrew Jackson home and three other permanent exhibits: Seacrest Homestead, Heritage Garden, and Nesbit Smokehouse.
Location: 8215 Waxhaw Hwy, Waxhaw, NC 28173
PC: Museum of Waxhaws
The Museum of the Alphabet (JAARS): The Museum of the Alphabet is a little different than what you might think. It is a museum for the history of writing, language, and people. The museum captures the true meaning of people from all over the world and equally brings them together in one space through letters. Visitors can take part in the museums various events that show the history of how people made an alphabet and the importance of minority languages. The museum is always free to the public, and holds a free event called “Night at the Alphabet Museum”. The event is for ages 8 and up with a pre-registration. Check the website for more information.
Location: 6409 Davis Road Waxhaw, NC 28173