During the winter, a family may want to find an indoor activity to stay out of the cold but still enjoy time together.

The High Country offers several museums to explore whether you’re looking for an activity for 20 minutes or a few hours. Two local free museums people can enjoy are the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.

BRAHM — a nonprofit museum that opened in 2011 — is located off of Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock at 159 Chestnut St. BRAHM’S Executive Director Lee Carol Giduz said the museum focuses on American art and narrowly focuses on the history of the southern Appalachian region. When it can, the museum tries to incorporate both at once.

For example, BRAHM has displayed an art collection by Claribel and Etta Cone — the sisters of Moses Cone. Moses Cone is best known for his completion of the Flat Top Manor located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Cone sisters would often visit the manor, as well as had a vast collection of art. While this display is only at BRAHM until Nov. 30, it’s an example of how the museum tries to honor both art and history.

“I think my favorite part (about BRAHM) are the many different ways we can contribute to the community and make Blowing Rock an even more wonderful place to be,” Giduz said. I think we add depth and richness to what is Blowing Rock and what someone experiences when they come here.”

The museum also has exhibits that are solely for history or focuses just on art. BRAHM has three rotating galleries and two to four permanent spaces. It also offers a community gallery that changes about four times a year with featured regional artists.

Giduz said BRAHM changes exhibits about three times a year, and was in the process of changing exhibits in early November. An upcoming exhibit that will be “much loved” is a photography display of work by Hugh Morton — the late owner of Grandfather Mountain. This exhibit will be on display through February.

It will also be welcoming “Sound Machines: Stringed Instruments by the Capozzoli Guitar Company” from Nov. 9 through April 11 as well as both a watercolor exhibit by Sallie Middleton called “A Life in the Forest” and wildlife wood sculptures by Pete Lupo called “Shared Spaces” from Dec. 13 to March 21.

In addition to the exhibits, BRAHM offers monthly programming such as workshops, lectures, videos or films. It also offers weekly art classes for children. Giduz said that the museum also offers a gift shop that features both local artists and unique gifts and items.

The museum also hosts other special events, which can be found on its website at blowingrockmuseum.org It will be hosting its next exhibition celebration on Dec. 13 as an opening reception its new exhibits.

During the winter, BRAHM is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It will be closed Christmas Day and New Years Day. For more information, call (828) 295-9099.

Offering work from regional artists as well as national and international pieces, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is located in downtown Boone and free to visitors. Located at 423 West King St., the Turchin Center sits right off of the campus of Appalachian State University.

Lynn Rees-Jones, the director of marketing at the Turchin Center, said her favorite thing about the museum is the wide variety of art that is brought in for viewing pleasure.

“Having that art here at the Turchin Center in Boone is such a great opportunity for people to come visit and be exposed to art and culture from around the world,” Rees-Jones said.

According to Rees-Jones, the Turchin Center changes its exhibits every three to six months in each of the galleries. She added that the museums curator aims to provide works that are “multi-layered,” and people can enjoy the pieces visually as well as take the time to learn about the backstory of the art.

“We want this to be a space that everybody feels welcome and can come in and enjoy the art at their own level,” Rees-Jones said. “You don’t have to be an art expert, you can just come in.”

Ending in February are a photography exhibit called “Beyond the Plantations: Images of the New South, Photographs by Michelle Van Parys,” a site-specific exhibition called “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 “ by Jodi Woodward and sculpture work by Keith Bryan called “Metaphorical Reality.”

Entering the museum on Jan. 24 and running through March 6 is artwork by Hui Chi Lee , an assistant professor in studio art at Appalachian State University, called Lian ‘ Lian.’ Running during the same length of time is the museum’s Faculty Biennial when it will feature the art from faculty of the university’s art department with art types like sculptures, paintings and photography.

“It is an absolutely fascinating peek into the depth and talent of the faculty here,” Rees-Jones said. “A lot of people in the community will know some of the artists; I think that makes it extra special.”

Coming to the museum in March are a book and exhibition form of art for “MARIA: Lesia Maruschak,” the showcase of the 17th Annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition and the Expressive Arts 35th Anniversary Celebration.

There are 10 sculptures throughout the university’s campus that people can also enjoy as part of the Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition. These sculptures are selected in a juried competition each year and featured by Turchin. The current sculptures are available until May 15.

The Turchin Center also offers workshops — such as Tai Chi and visual journaling — and other events. Its next exhibition celebration, when artists and community members are invited to attend, is March 6.

The center is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. It often operates on the university calendar, and may close in the case of a university closure.

The museum is closed from Nov. 27-Dec. 2, Thanksgiving Dec. 22 – Jan. 6 as well as other state holidays. For more information on the Turchin Center, visit tcva.appstate.edu or call (828) 262-3017.

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