Check Out Portal Charlotte for an Immersive Art Experience

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Been to any art museums lately? So often art is meant only to be looked at and not touched. Enjoyed from a far, without interaction. A new art installation in Charlotte called Portal Charlotte is trying to change that and we sent Melanie to go find out what this place is all about. 

What is Portal Charlotte?

Portal Charlotte is billed as an “immersive art experience”.

What does that mean?
It means they want you to have fun with it.
Get INTO the art.
Get ON the art.
Become one with the art.

All of this equals some of the most fun and creative photo opportunities you’ll find around.

Located just a block up from Discovery Place in Charlotte, this hands-on art collection is in the underground vault of a bank that was built a century ago. The huge safe door is one of the first things that greets you as you enter.

Each room is handed over to a different local artis. The only rule is– there are none. All that artistic freedom has resulted in a wildly successful inaugural showcase. So successful in fact, a music video was recently shot there. So if you want photos from the set of a music video, you’ll need to hurry. Each showcase only lasts for three months, then a new set of rooms replaces it. We’re at the tail end of that time span, so better hurry! Currently the rooms include things like an upside down room, a money room, a room with urban hieroglyphics that includes a decoder app and a room decorated by someone who includes Sir Paul McCartney among her client list. 

Portal Charlotte Tickets

Portal is only open from Thursday through Sunday and while walk up tickets are available for purchase, I highly recommend reserving your time slot online in advance. I witnessed a bunch of people dressed for the occasion and ready for their close-up, turned away because the tickets were already sold out for the day. Considering this isn’t exactly local, I wouldn’t risk it.

Once you have your tickets and you’re in, you have all the time you want to be inside. I was surprised that I spent two hours there, and I was by myself. Had I been with friends, who knows how long it would have been. But that’s OK. They want you to enjoy your time there and get every last photo you desire. They’ll even step in to play photographer for that group shot.

Tickets for this experience are $11/kids ages 4-12 and $17.50/adults.

Tips for Portal Charlotte

Before you head out, I have some tips to help you get the most of your trip to Portal.

  • Study the Portal Charlotte Instagram feed and see what other people have done in the rooms. It’s hard to be creative when there’s a line of patiently waiting people eagerly watching what you do.
  • While you’re studying their social media feeds, take notes and bring them. I forgot several things I wanted to do, and won’t be able to get back before it’s changed out.
  • Familiarize yourself with the boomerang camera feature on your social media apps. This is how the stop motion loop appearance clips are made. There are several rooms that are perfect for use of this.
  • Don’t take any inch of Portal for granted! Look at each room from several different angles. Even the bathroom makes for some cool photo opportunities. I actually somehow missed an entire room. I have no idea how, and didn’t realize until I was looking on social media.
  • If going solo, it’s possible you’ll just need a good tripod and patience. If you need to purchase a tripod for your phone, look for one that can also be used as a selfie stick and has a bluetooth remote. This will reduce a lot of the running back and forth to reset the timer on your camera.
  • Bring someone if possible. It’s more fun and someone else might have a new way of looking at the room and how to take advantage of it than you do.
  • If you are serious about your Instagram feed, bring a wardrobe change. Then it’ll look like multiple visits on your feed. Shhhh, we won’t tell.
  • Bring the kids! Think of how cool annual birthday photos, sports photos, dance photos would be set in these rooms. Bring dance outfits or sports jerseys to complete the picture. A family photo shoot would certainly make for some jealousy inducing holiday cards.
  • Play with the lighting. One of the rooms had a table top lamp casting a green light, and I turned it off to get a natural lighting effect. Just make sure to put things back for the next person.
  • Have fun. Don’t worry if you look silly in the attempt to get a great shot! No one is going to see the acrobatics that went into that viral photo.
  • This city girl drove around way longer than I care to admit looking for a parking spot. I found a perfect parking garage just up from Portal and it’s only $5 for the whole day on weekends. It’s located at – 227 West Trade Street

We hope you make the trip to Charlotte to enjoy this one of a kind art experience! Don’t forget a whole new experience awaits you every few months!

Portal Charlotte
114 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202


How would you feel about Greenville having it’s own Portal location? Let us know!

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

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