The Gannt Center is a cultural institution in Charlotte, North Carolina where visitors can view galleries and exhibitions, take in a performance, or engage in educational opportunities centered around African American history and arts. In the early 1970’s, an assistant English Professor at University of North Carolina Clemson, Mary Harper, came up with an idea for her doctoral project to shed light on the achievements of African Americans and their contribution to American, and North Carolina, societies.
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Partnering with her mentor, Dr. Bertha Maxwell Roddey, the Afro-American Cultural and Service Center was opened on August 31, 1974 with an outdoor music festival to celebrate.
The center was a place for the public to learn about African American culture. Content was presented through exhibitions, performance, and educational programming. The Center relocated in 1976 and again in 1986 to the first ward in the former Little Rock AME Zion Church. This church was established in the late 19th century by former slaves in Charlotte. In 2007, groundbreaking began on a brand-new building that would create a $158 million cultural campus that The Center would be a part of. The building is designed as four stories, 45,000 square feet with space for galleries, performance spaces, offices, a gift shop, and rooftop terrace.
The new cultural center was renamed Harvey B. Gannt Center for African American Arts and Culture, after Mayor Gannt, the first black mayor in Charlotte who served two terms in the 1980’s. The facility opened to the public in October of 2009 and serves as a reminder of the civil rights movement, African American history and achievements, and other arts.
The Hewitt Collection of African-American Art is showcased at the Gantt Center galleries and highlights works by renowned Africa-American artists. This collection was acquired by Bank of America from John and Vivian Hewitt in 1998 and donated the collection to the Center. The Hewitt’s were personal friends with many of the artists featured in the collection, even having opened their personal home to some of the artists to display their works for the public. There are 58 pieces in the Hewitt Collection that represent 20 different artists including Hale Woodruff, Romare Bearden, Ann Tanksley, Jacob Lawrence and many others.
The Gantt Center curates several exhibitions each year so that patrons to The Center can always find a new way to experience the Hewitt Collection and learn about African American culture and history. Each exhibit is temporary, running for a few months in most cases. Detailed information on current and past exhibitions is always available and up to date on The Center’s website.
Touring and Educational Opportunities
The purpose of the Gantt Center is to preserve, collect, and educate patrons on African-American cultural studies and history. This is achieves through tours of the museum and educational programming.
Self-Guided Tours- Groups comprised of 10 or less people can participate in self-guided tours of the Center and be charged the basic admission rates.
Guided Tours- Tours for groups must be scheduled in advance and are lead by museum educators. Admission for a guided tour is more than regular admission.
Field Trips- Students and educators are welcome to participate in field trip programs to the Gantt Center during select dates and times. Tours can be tailored for kindergarten through college students and address Common Core and North Carolina Essential Standards. These tours can be self-guided by the educator or be led by a museum educator for an additional fee.
Family First- This program is designed for families with children in Elementary school, ages 5-10. Families will be engaged with discussion, gallery experience, art creation, singing, dancing, and other interactive learning experiences.
Jr. Studio- Contemporary Art is the focus of this program from children ages 8-12. Parents and children are invited to explore and create art and view the galleries of the Gantt Center.
Classic International Black Cinema Series- This program hosts monthly screenings of films for adults that further the appreciation of Black Cinema, but are engaging enough for a diverse population.
Artists Talk- Exhibiting artists gather with other adults to talk about their in-gallery pieces and art creation process.
Collector Series- This series for adults will give the basics to starting your own art collection. Those who participate in this series will be able to tour galleries, visit studios, and discuss art collection with curators for The Center.
Gantt Symposium- An annual event for adults, the symposium brings together community leaders and the public to discuss relevant community-related topics. The purpose of the program is to work together to address the issues in Charlotte and make the city better for all people.
Open Easels- This open studio is for middle school children through adults to create art using a live model.
551 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, Phone: 704-547-3700