Raleigh, NC (Sept. 15, 2015) -  M. C. Escher, Billy Graham and the "most amazing mammals of all time" headline another spectacular season of art and culture this fall through winter in the "Smithsonian of the South," the moniker given Raleigh, North Carolina for its abundant, high-caliber cultural attractions, most of which are open to the public free of charge.

Impressive permanent collections, extraordinary visiting exhibits and a year-round schedule of special events and live performances at Raleigh's museums, galleries and performing arts venues create a cultural epicenter in the south, beckoning enthusiasts to the state's capital city.

Cultural Highlights beginning Fall 2015

The Worlds of M .C.  Escher: Nature, Science and Imagination, presented by the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) October 17, 2015 through January 17, 2016.  The most comprehensive Escher exhibition ever presented in the United States, featuring more than 130 works and including some pieces never before exhibited.

North Carolina's Favorite Son: Billy Graham and His Remarkable Journey of Faith, on display at the North Carolina Museum of History November 6, 2015 through July 10, 2016. Explore Billy Graham's life and ministry through treasured memorabilia, audio and video displays, and interactive galleries.

Extreme Mammals: The Biggest, Smallest, and Most Amazing Mammals of All Time, at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences September 26, 2015 through March 27, 2016.  This captivating new exhibition explores the surprising and extraordinary world of extinct and living mammals through interactive displays, touchable fossils, life-size models, eMammal research and more.

Cultural Attractions
Raleigh is home to high-caliber cultural attractions that run the gamut from science and nature to art and history, many of which are open free-of-charge.   Highlights include the North Carolina Museum of History (an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution) and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame located at the Museum of History, the North Carolina Railroad Museum, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences -- the largest museum of its kind in the southeast, where visitors can interact with scientists at work at the on-site Research Center.  Most of the area's cultural attractions are family-friendly, but several are especially kid-centric including Marbles Kids Museum where children imagine, discover and learn in dozens of interactive exhibits and daily educational programs.

Visual Arts
Visual arts within the destination are represented by a tempting palette of art museums, special exhibitions and galleries.  The North Carolina Museum of Art has an extensive and diversified collection and is home to the nation's largest museum park, while CAM Raleigh explores what's "new and now" with an always-changing experience as North Carolina's only non-collecting museum.  Locals love the Warehouse District (voted a Top Ten City Art District by USA Today)  with its creative design studios and variety of galleries all intermixed with upscale eateries and late-night lounges.  ArtSpace is Raleigh's visual art center with a dynamic studio environment of established and emerging artists who engage the community in the art process with hands-on arts education.  The Carey Art Loop, a group of artists and artisans in the quaint community of Cary, also encourage community interaction and stage the monthly Final Fridays Art Crawl featuring gallery strolls and live music on the last Friday of the month, and downtown Raleigh's galleries host First Friday Art Walks showcasing new artists and exhibits with self-guided tours on the first Friday of each month. 

Performing Arts
Raleigh is rich in performing arts options.  Here, one can soar with the Carolina Ballet, sing arias with the North Carolina Opera, take in a concert by the North Carolina Symphony and experience the magic of a Broadway show at the North Carolina Theatre. These major presenters are bolstered by a thriving community of smaller theatres, unique venues, and creative performances. 

Art Festivals
The arts take center-stage every October with Raleigh's annual "31 Days of Art," a celebration designed to nurture and indulge a love of art with daily performances, exhibits, and gallery shows in many artistic disciplines at a variety of venues.  SparkCon is another great local art & design festival held every September and produced by Raleigh's non-profit creativity incubator, Visual Art Exchange. Raleigh M.A.I.N Event celebrates the best of the destination's art, music and spirit of innovation by helping to promote the many exhibits, festivals, concerts and innovation forums hosted throughout September and early October. 

Local Perspective
For destination insight from Raleigh resident and cultural expert Sally Edwards, president of Marbles Kids Museum, go to:  Visit Raleigh with Sally Edwards. 

For more information on festivals, exhibitions, attractions or to book special packages and rates during the fall, go to http://www.visitraleigh.com/.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, as the official destination marketing organization of Raleigh and Wake County, accelerates sustainable economic growth and development by increasing visitor and convention business. Through its website, http://www.visitraleigh.com/ and other tools, the GRCVB assists local visitors in a variety of ways.