Though Raleigh and the Triangle metro area are mostly known for the many innovative businesses and leading universities that are located here, Raleigh also has a burgeoning art scene with something fun going on pretty much each and every day, which is why our city is gaining national attention and recognition all across the board.

The local Raleigh arts community gets together often, and puts on many art-related events throughout the calendar year, such as the widely popular SPARKcon and Artsplosure. These two Downtown Raleigh based events that have become a local annual tradition welcome tens of thousands of people.

Additionally, the city is full of so many creative and highly driven individuals that have opened up their own galleries and studios to showcase their crafts. There are also dozens of cool spaces where you can create your own art! Check out this quick guide to Raleigh’s hot and always happening art scene:

Raleigh’s Best Art Galleries

North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art features indoor and outdoor exhibits for the entire family. Permanent exhibits include classic and modern art in addition to historic artifacts. There’s always a steady flow of interesting temporary exhibits, so be sure to check out the NCMA website regularly.


Located in City Market, Artspace is the hub for Raleigh’s art scene. Here you will find many different artists in residence, creating and selling their pieces. Artspace also hosts special exhibits and art classes throughout the year.

Contemporary Art Museum

The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) curates unique and contemporary works of art and design. Exhibits include No Damsel, a collection of your favorite princesses re-imagined as contemporary women and Internal Service Provider, an immersive installation that aims to guide you through the challenges of the 21st century. CAM also hosts art programs, classes, and events.

Visual Art Exchange

The Visual Art Exchange (VAE) serves as a “creativity incubator” for young Raleigh artists. It provides resources and a helpful community for artists who display their works in its 4,000 square foot gallery. VAE hosts many events throughout the year, including its annual Creativity Summit.

Lump Gallery

If you are looking for genuinely unusual and ambitious art, pay a visit to Lump Gallery.  Past exhibits included Before the War, a virtual reality exhibit, and You’ve Reached the Office of Stuart Ullman, which featured a recreation of the office set from the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.

Raleigh’s Best Arts Events

SPARKcon: A Raleigh Tradition

SparkCon is a can’t-miss Downtown Raleigh event featuring artists of all types. Chalk art lines the streets along with live performances by musicians, acrobats, dancers, and more. SparkCon typically takes place the second week in September right on the heels of Hopscotch which is another extremely popular Downtown Raleigh event.

Over 200 events take place, featuring over 2,000 artists. SparkCon is a 4-day celebration of creativity. There is truly something for everyone. There’s PoetrySpark for the literary types, CircusSpark for the whimsically inclined, ArtSpark, FilmSpark, ALL THE SPARKS!

Artsplosure: Raleigh Arts Festival

Every spring, the Raleigh art community takes over downtown for a celebration of all things creative! Artsplosure features special exhibits, an art market, activities for the kids, live music and more!

First Friday Raleigh

Raleigh artists aren’t content with celebrating just one weekend out of the year! On the first Friday of every month, Downtown Raleigh art galleries stay open late for First Friday gallery walks. Some even host events and provide adult beverages. Mark your calendar for the next First Friday – you may just discover your new favorite local artist, or finally, find that perfect piece for the empty wall in your living room.

Visiting all those fantastic Raleigh art galleries during your First Friday walk may inspire some of you to create your own art masterpieces. Check out Wine & Design for group painting classes or head to Jerry’s Art-a-Rama to pick up all of the art supplies you need to unleash your creativity in your own home!

So what are some of your favorite art spaces in all of Raleigh? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.

This post was created in collaboration with 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication on