One of our favorite places in the Southeast is the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, a cultural institution that preserves and celebrates excellence in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent. Located in Charlotte’s uptown, the Center’s outstanding art exhibits, lectures, film screenings and performing arts workshops are nothing short of first-class.

The John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art—one of the nation’s most important and comprehensive collections—is showcased here and has become a cornerstone of the Center’s permanent art collection. It includes works by master artists, including Romare Bearden, Jonathan Green, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett and many others.

Upcoming activities at the Center will have your head spinning. This month marks the kickoff of its 40th anniversary celebration with new art exhibitions and a yearlong rollout of cultural activities and festive events. Gantt Center President and CEO, David Taylor says, “Few communities in our nation have the privilege of prominent, public places that, for 40 years, have preserved and celebrated the Black experience.”

Activities and events this year include 40 and Counting, an exhibition showcasing treasured works and artifacts from the Center’s permanent collection (July 26); a festive, black-tie affair, Jazzy Holiday Gala (December 6); Ganttfest 2014, a fun, educational day (July 26) filled with music, storytelling, spoken word, dance, food and art; and Destination: Cuba!, a cultural tour of Cuba (December 19 – 23).

Visit ganttcenter.org or call 704-547-3700.