Ackland Art Museum turns sixty

Ackland Art Center gallery
A gallery in the William Hayes Ackland Art Center during its opening weekend, 19-20 September 1958. (Scene cropped from a negative in the UNC Photo Lab collection.)

Birthed as the William Hayes Ackland Art Center, the Ackland Art Museum turns sixty today.  The art center held a special preview for UNC faculty on Friday evening, September 19, 1958.  The official dedication ceremony took place the next morning, featuring a talk titled, “The Role of the College Museum in America” by S. Lane Faison, head of the art department and director of the art museum at Williams College in Massachusetts.  The opening exhibition was a composition of paintings, prints, etchings, drawings, and sculptures from the collections of several college and university art museums across the country.

The university slated Joseph Curtis Sloane, then at Bryn Mawr College, to become chairman of the Art Department and director of the new art center.

Sitterson, Aycock, and Sloane
Welcoming visitors to the Ackland Art Center are, left to right, J. Carlye Sitterson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; William Aycock, Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill; and Joseph C. Sloane, incoming chair of the Art Department and director of the Ackland Art Center. (Scene cropped from a negative in the UNC Photo Lab collection.)

William D. Carmichael Jr., Vice President and Financial Officer of The University of North Carolina, accepted the building on behalf of the consolidated university.

William D. Carmichael Jr.
William D. Carmichael Jr. accepting the Ackland Art Center building on behalf of the university. (Scene cropped from a negative in the UNC Photo Lab collection.)

Photographic black-and-white negatives and prints in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection document both events, plus a number of artworks loaned for the debut exhibition.

Care to learn more about the Ackland’s origins?  The Daily Tar Heel covered the story, including the background of the William Hayes Ackland bequest and the works of art in the opening exhibition on September 18th in advance of the dedication ceremony, and reported on the formal opening on September 21st.




So you think you know North Carolina…. No. 38

1. In 1895 students at Davidson College voted to change the school colors to crimson and black — what had they been previously?

2. What lake once ranked among the world’s largest farms?

3. What are terpenes — and what do they have to do with the Blue Ridge Mountains?

4. Match these TV personalities from the ’50s and ’60s with where they retired.

A. Perry Como

B. Frances Bavier

C. Buffalo Bob Smith

D. Kate Smith

1. Raleigh

2. Saluda

3. Siler City

4. Flat Rock

5. Concerning his time at what college did novelist William Styron recall, “My innate sinfulness was in constant conflict with the prevailing official piety”?

Answers below





1. Pink and blue (team nickname: Preachers)

2. Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County. The shallow lake, 18 miles long and 6 miles wide, was drained — three times — by ambitious promoters in the early decades of the 1900s. Its bottom land produced mammoth harvests of corn, rice, soybeans and sweet potatoes, but operating problems finally won out. In 1934 the federal government bought the tract and created the Mattamuskeet Migratory Bird Refuge.

3. They’re chemicals given off by coniferous trees, and they’re responsible for the Blue Ridge’s characteristic haze.

4. A, 2; B, 3; C, 4; D, 1.6.

5. Davidson College. Styron left after a “miserable” freshman year and eventually graduated from Duke.