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N.C. Museum Of Art Unveils Plans For First-Of-Its Kind Park

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A new park taking shape in Raleigh could become a major tourist attraction.


North Carolina Museum of Art

unveiled detailed plans for expanding its grounds Tuesday. The highlight is a 164-acre park, which will be the first of its kind in the country.

Thirty years ago when the state chose the spot for the North Carolina Museum of Art, the dream was to surround it with acres of natural beauty mixed with a few un-natural creations.

Kelly Branson hikes the existing 1-mile art-park trail and said she cannot wait to explore all the paved and unpaved trails that will wind through land where the old Polk Youth Prison once stood.

"I'm excited about everything that's going on here," Branson said. "I've never seen anything like this anywhere. It's just fantastic. During the day it's beautiful and at night, with the rings lit, it's gorgeous," she said.

This will be the only art park in the country tied in with a major art museum. Museum director Larry Wheeler said the few sculptures already in place are just a taste of what is to come.

"The types of projects that we will have in this park are going to be commissions of international artists who use the land to make their art," he said.

Plans also call for a pedestrian bridge across the beltline, connecting the land to the city greenway and regional bike-trail systems.

"So education, the arts, recreation, transportation will all come together all around us," Wheeler said.

North Carolina State University's College of Natural Resources will work with the museum as an environmental manager of the park. The result could be a unique gathering place and cultural gem.

"It really will be a magnet for all kinds of people and I just think it's incredible," Branson said.

The museum's park is expected to take a year and a half to complete.