Imagine celebrating your birthday by asking your friends to give you some of the most exquisite gifts you could imagine.
For the Ackland Art Museum’s 60th anniversary this year, that’s what museum officials did.
“One of the outstanding characteristics of the Ackland is its permanent collection,” said Peter Nisbet, deputy director for curatorial affairs of UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus museum.
“We have one of the most diverse, rich, geographically broad permanent collections in the state,” he said. “So we came up with the idea, after speaking to generous friends, donors and collectors who love the Ackland, to gather birthday presents in honor of our 60th anniversary.”
Those friends didn’t disappoint, and now the public can see some of the surprises. Here’s a glimpse of what’s been unwrapped for “Birthday Presents,” which opened Friday and will continue through Jan. 6:
▪ Three etchings by the Dutch artist Rembrandt, including “The Small Lion Hunt,” and “Christ and the Woman of Samaria.”
▪ “Foolish Questions,” an early 20th century pen-and-ink comic drawing by American cartoonist Rube Goldberg.
▪ A colorful early 20th century collar made out of glass beads, fiber, leather and mother-of-pearl buttons from an unidentified artist from South Africa’s Mfengu peoples.
▪ And an 11th century Cambodian sandstone torso by an unidentified artist.
“It’s a kaleidoscope of world creativity,” he said. “It’s a nice mixture: 60 works of art, 30 donors and 13 are UNC alums.”
Plus, the museum debuted a traveling public art exhibit Sept. 20 — the RedBall Project, a 250-pound inflatable ball that measures 15 feet in diameter when fully inflated. The ball from Asheville-based artist Kurt Perschke moves to a new location on the UNC campus and Chapel Hill each day through Wednesday, Sept. 26.
Museum officials say RedBall Chapel Hill is a gift to the town and campus, thanking them for the support they’ve given since the William Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center was dedicated on Sept. 20, 1958.
When: Sept. 21– Jan. 6.
Where: Ackland Art Museum, 101 S. Columbia St., Chapel Hill
Info: 919-966-5736 or ackland.org