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While much of the buzz goes home with UNC’s students for the summer, the lull presents the perfect opportunity to explore local museums, galleries and makerspaces, uninterrupted by classes or crowds and with no shortage of events. 

Sitting on the edge of UNC’s campus and housing over 20,000 artworks, the Ackland Art Museum — one of Chapel Hill’s most prominent art institutions — will be hosting exhibitions and events all summer. 

The Ackland’s ongoing special exhibition, “Arranged,” curated by Peter Nisbet, the museum’s deputy director for curatorial affairs, presents modern and contemporary paintings that the museum has acquired in recent years.

Tours, drawing sessions and live performances based on the exhibition are scheduled until the exhibition closes on Sept. 1

Allison Portnow Lathrop, head of public programs, said that the Ackland offers several opportunities for student engagement, both during the school year and over the summer. Incoming students can register for an Ackland student membership, which comes with several benefits, such as access to not only extra programs, but a community on campus.

“It's a great place to pop in and cool down — see some art that will be lovely and life-changing,” she said.

For students interested in hands-on learning while classes are out, The ArtsCenter in Carrboro offers seasonal classes through its ArtSchool in mediums from ceramics to textiles to dance and everything in between.

“There's really something for everybody, but we've realized recently that actually, we don't think we have quite as much of a foothold in the student community as we'd like to,” Rachel Nunn, the associate director of the ArtSchool, said. “And so to try and work on that, we've started offering student rush pricing.”

The new student rush pricing grants students 50% off the price of ArtSchool classes. Nunn said that all students need to do is bring a valid school ID to the ArtsCenter prior to the start of the class. 

In September, the ArtsCenter moved to a new location on Robertson Street. Nunn said that this new location hosts a variety of musical and theater events, one of several upgrades from their old location on Main Street. The new space also features makerspaces with 3D printers, laser cutters and other tools.

There are similar makerspaces on campus. Although they are operating in a limited capacity over the summer, students interested in pursuing equipment for woodworking, metalworking, sewing or 3D printing, among others, can do so through UNC’s BeAM Makerspaces.

Anna Engelke, BeAM education program manager, said that the makerspace located in Murray Hall will be open all summer, except for holidays, from Monday to Friday, 12-5 p.m.

“If you're doing a personal project, or coursework or research — any of those,” she said. “If you have no experience, if you have tons of experience — whatever background you're coming from, everybody's welcome.”

It is easy to access art in the city, even without attending events or visiting museums and galleries. Vibrant murals hide in every corner, brightening up brick alleyways and rewarding residents who know where to look for them, such that a walk down Franklin Street might, for many, be like a gallery visit.

Several buildings feature colorful abstracts and portraits dedicated to social justice and history. One such mural celebrates Women’s History Month, and another depicts folk-blues artist and Carrboro native Elizabeth Cotten. 

Perhaps the most recognizable mural in Chapel Hill adorns the back of He’s Not Here, an iconic bar on Franklin Street. The mural, created by Scott Nurkin, welcomes visitors and students alike, depicting a vibrant postcard from 1941 that reads “Greetings from Chapel Hill!”

2nd Fridays — art walks hosted the second Friday of every month — are almost a local holiday, celebrated by art spaces from Chapel Hill to Carrboro with late hours and events. 

For those looking for a more hands-on approach to art, various local galleries such as Peel, Frank Gallery and My Muses Card Shop host workshops at least once a week. 

@dthlifestyle |

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