In 1948, William Hayes Ackland left a bequest to establish a university art museum in the South because there were few museums of any kind below the Mason-Dixon Line. The Ackland opened in 1958 on the campus of the first public university in the nation, UNC-Chapel Hill. Over four decades later, the Ackland still finds its greatest strength in using its university environment as a resource to engage both university and non-university audiences.
The Ackland exists to bring people and works of art together. The Museum acquires, preserves, exhibits and interprets works of art to fulfill the University’s mission. The Ackland advances the University’s global reach through artistic and scholarly collaborations with national and international partners. The Museum’s collection of over 15,000 objects includes the art of Asia, Africa, Europe and America, with works ranging from ancient times to the 21st century.