Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, North Carolina is far more than a beautiful building with pictures hanging on the wall. The Wilmington museum features 40,000 square feet of artworks, historical displays and cultural exhibits. The journey through the Cape Fear Coast heritage and artistic endeavors continues outside the facility at the Art Park. In addition to the year around exhibits at the Cameron Art Museum, visitors can participate in learning and craftsman workshop and tour visiting collections. When planning a visit to the museum, estimate on spending at least three hours to thoroughly explore all the facility has to offer.
The Cameron Art Museum opened its’ doors in 202. Before the massive facility was built on a nearly 10 acre tract at Pyramid Park, some of the museum’s collections had already been on public display. Before relocating to the present location, the museum had been known as the St. John’s Museum of Art, in operation since 1964. Due to the need for a larger facility in a more accessible location, preparations began to find a new home for the art and cultural exhibits. In early 1977 the trustees of the museum initiated a capital campaign to garner funds for a new building. Although the managing board searched extensively to rebuild in downtown Wilmington, a suitable or affordable site was not found. After securing an architect and land, the first blocks were laid for the new museum, now under the present name.
The Pyramid Park location is surrounded by woodlands and a multitude of mature Longleaf pine trees. Located adjacent to the Cameron Art Museum is a Civil War historic site, Pancoe Art Education Center, nature trails and Clay Studio. Outdoor sculptures adorn the grounds of the entire Pyramid Park area.
Cameron Art Museum is divided into five separate display and exhibit areas. The Weyerhaueser Lecture and Reception Hall is the portion of the building where many special events and workshops are held. Visiting speakers and traveling collections also call the reception hall home when making an appearance at this Wilmington museum. The Museum Cafe offers light fair and soft drinks for visitor convenience. The eatery is a casual, family friendly environment with reasonable prices and a children’s menu. A catering kitchen is attached to the cafe, providing services for special events hosted by the museum and private functions. What museum is complete without a gift shop to preserve the memory of an enjoyable visit? The Cameron Art Museum Gift Shop is filled with educational materials, historical books, collectibles, replicas of artistic works and kid-friendly items such as stuffed animals and toys. The exhibits and displays are housed in three distinct wings of the main building. Historic documents are rotated to reduce the exposure and damage caused by light. Parking at the Cameron Art Museum is available at no charge. The museum is handicap accessible. Most visitors with ambulatory restrictions will still be able to traverse and enjoy the exterior displays.
Civil War Historic Site
The Battle of Forks Road occurred in early 1865, and was one of the final battles of the Civil War. After the Confederate stronghold – Fort Fisher fell, Union troops began their trek along the Cape Fear Coast. The goal of capturing the city of Wilmington and closing the Confederacy’s last open port motivated the federal troops to reach the area as quickly as possible. A battle was fought on what is now part of the museum’s grounds. Revetments created by Confederate soldiers still exist on the grounds. The museum has preserved the site and celebrates the significance of the battle by hosting a “Civil War Living History Weekend” annually. The event include workshops, living history re-enactors, a lecture series, Civil War era children’s games and artillery demonstrations.
The term art might conjure of intricate brush strokes across a piece of canvas. While there are plenty of traditional pieces of gallery art at the Cameron Art Museum, folk art, quilts, pottery and whole lot more await the curious eyes of museum guests.
The Real McCoy Collection includes over 850 pieces of Nelson McCoy pottery created over a period of 15 years by the artisan. Pieces in the eclectic collection range from cookie jars to wall clocks.
The Past is Present Collection shares the history of Cape Fear Coast families forever preserved in stitches of string. The experiences and lives of three African American women are interwoven on quilts which hang from the wall, each depicting a moment in time from the past two centuries. Also included in the collection are mixed media mosaic tile artworks. The creations create the images with ornate bead work, hand-sewn squares adorned with photos and historical or family themes.
The Kaleidoscope: Changing Views Collection offers a collections of sculptures, paintings, etchings, furniture and sculptures. Exhibits in this display are frequently rotated, offering visitors a new experience each time they visit the Cameron Art Museum.
Put an old shirt on the kids and take them to a Kids @ Cam class, offered on the third Saturday each month. Children experiment in various types of media to create an art project to take home and share with family and friends. A nominal fee is charged for participation.
Kids @ Museum Camp in an outdoor art workshop for children ages six to ten years of age. The camp session as three hours in duration and held during the months of July and August. Children show their creations during an exhibition on the final day of camp. A fee is charged for camp sessions.
An Adult Figure Drawing Group meets at the Cameron Art Museum each Tuesday evening. A fee is charged for the six session training class. Adult learners must bring their own supplies to the class.
The Minnie Evans Study Center is a repository of the folk art works by artisan, Minnie Evans. The center features research sessions and visits by regionally and internationally renowned artists who wish to celebrate the works of North Carolina native.
The Clay Studio, located inside the Pancoe Center offers classes in pottery and use of the facility’s outdoor kiln. Pottery technique learning sessions for both experienced clay artisans and novices are offered throughout the year.
Cameron Arts Museum hosts special events programs and learning sessions year around. Recurring and past offerings include Tai Chi classes, Yoga courses, performances by the Forward Motion Dance Company, performances by University of North Carolina at Wilmington drama students and outdoor musical performances by regional singers and musicians.