The new Kimpton Hotel Arras—an adaptive reuse of the 1965-original Northwestern Bank Building—rises from the center of downtown Asheville, with floor-to-ceiling windows that frame sweeping views of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. But Mother Nature’s not the only artist here; the city has its own well-deserved reputation as a creative haven. Here are our five top experiences for art lovers visiting eclectic Asheville.
An Afternoon at the Museum
Although it originally opened in 1948 on Charlotte Street, the Asheville Art Museum spent 20 years on the 15th floor of what is now the Kimpton Hotel Arras. This month, the museum celebrates its 70th anniversary, and a newly redesigned space at Pack Square. Don’t miss “50 Years of Western North Carolina Glass,” an inaugural exhibition featuring foundational artists in the Studio Glass Movement. Then visit the Appleby Foundation Exhibition Hall to see “Appalachia Now!” a celebration of contemporary artists put together by nationally renowned curator Jason Andrew. Short on time? Drop in on one of the museum’s lunchtime “Art Breaks!” informal gallery talks and presentations on select Fridays at noon.
Take a Studio Stroll
A unique neighborhood that hugs the French Broad River, the River Arts District (aptly known as RAD) is a must-see for art-lovers. Home to more than 200 artists with working studios in industrial buildings dating to the early 1900s, there are no official open hours for the district so, if there’s a particular artist you’re hoping to see, check in with them in advance. And if you’re just looking to browse, time your visit with a River Arts District Studio Stroll & Art Sale, when the studios open their doors for two full days of special demonstrations and events, including workshops and gallery receptions.
Visit the Folk Art Center
Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just a five-minute drive from downtown, the Folk Art Center showcases traditional and contemporary crafts of the Southern Appalachians. Home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, the center hosts three galleries, a library, and a craft shop. Live craft demonstrations happen daily in the lobby, but there’s always art on display (and for sale), including quilts, fiber art, jewelry and more.
Browse Our Collection
Our former-bank-turned-hotel has been reimagined to blend Art Deco with modern mountain edge, serving as an extension of the city’s creative community. Featuring one-of-a-kind purchased and commissioned pieces from nearly 20 local artists, artisans and purveyors, our Asheville Art Program includes a nightly art tour, complete with a glass of wine. You’ll get a curator’s take on the art throughout the hotel, including the ceramic leaves by John Wayne Jackson near the lobby elevators, waxed carbon wood totems by Carl Pitman and layered gesso works by Steven St. Claire.
Walk the Art District
More than 20 galleries, studios and museums make up the Downtown Asheville Arts District. Members open their doors on the first Friday of every month, from April to December, with gallery openings, live music, demonstrations, performances and more. Browse art in almost every medium, including contemporary folk art, pottery, wood, jewelry and glass—something to please any aesthetic. Happy art hunting!