When CIAA fans begin arriving in earnest later this week, they will discover an uptown Charlotte slightly different than the one they departed in 2010.

Two of city’s newest attraction – the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Mint Museum Uptown – were still under construction during last year’s CIAA tournament. A third venue – the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art – was less than two months old.

With an estimated 100,000 people expected uptown this week to attend basketball games, parties and other CIAA-related events, museum managers are taking note. Nearly all are promoting special offers or exhibits to attract CIAA visitors looking to stray from the usual paths.

At the Bechtler, for example, officials are offering half-price admission to anyone showing a CIAA game stub. (Normal adult admission is $8.)

“When the (2010) tournament came right after we opened, we didn’t see many people, unfortunately, but we weren’t as prepared as we are now,” said Pam Davis, director of communications and marketing at the Bechtler. “I hope we see a lot of people in town for the tournament this year.”

Davis said she believes the Bechtler’s small size – and its distinctive architecture — may be a selling point for busy CIAA fans.

“You can come in and go through our museum in 30 minutes if you want to, or you can take hours and hours,” she said. “It’s very approachable and doable in whatever time you want to devote to it.”

The Bechtler (420 South Tryon Street) features modern art from the mid 20th century – mainly the 1950s – scattered over four floors.

Here is what other uptown venues are doing:

Discovery Place (301 N Tryon):
Often thought of as a children’s museum, Discovery Place in February launched a three-month exhibit called “RACE: Are We So Different?” The exhibit explores the origins and impact of race and racism in everyday life. It investigates race through the framework of science and explores three primary themes:

• The science of human variation
• The history of the idea of race
• The contemporary experience of race and racism in the U.S.

This exhibit is designed to challenge some common perceptions about race. Visitors can tour at their own pace, but to get the full effect, plan to spend an hour or two.

The Race exhibit is included with standard admission ($12 for adults). Groups of 15 or more qualify for discounts, but reservations are required (Call 704.372.6261 x 300). Special rates also apply to visitors with AAA cards.

Mint Museum (500 S. Tryon):
Anyone showing a CIAA ticket stub will be admitted for half price. (Adult admission is normally $10) The half-price offer also applies to anyone who mentions seeing a Mint Museum ad in the official CIAA guide or on one of the digital boards in uptown hotels. The half-price deal is good at both Mint locations if used in a two-day period.

Elizabeth Isenhour, marketing and public relations manager at the Mint, said she believes the Romare Bearden gallery might be popular with CIAA fans. Bearden, one of the nation’s most renowned African American artists, was born in Charlotte 100 years ago this year.

The Mint also includes other works by African Americans, and a special exhibit on Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the British monarch for whom the Queen City was named, explores what was rumored to be her African lineage.

The Gantt Center (551 S. Tryon):
Charlotte’s only uptown museum devoted to African American arts and culture, the Gantt Center will offer $5 admission to anyone showing a CIAA ticket stub. The center currently is showing three exhibits:

• Black Music After 1968: The Photography of Jim Alexander
• The John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art
• What My Mother Told Me: The Art of Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

Private promoters have rented space in the Gantt Center for events and parties. Click here for details.

Bonita Buford, a Gantt Center spokeswoman, said Galleries will be closed during private events, and the entire center will close at noon on Saturday for a day party. It will reopen Sunday at 1 p.m.

NASCAR Hall of Fame (400 East Martin Luther King Boulevard):
On Saturday, the NASCAR Hall will offer an exclusive viewing of the film “Wendell Scott: A Race Story,” which chronicles the only African-American to win a race in NASCAR’s top series. Show times are 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The movie is free with general admission (adults $19.95).

As part of its “Drive for Diversity” program, the hall of fame will showcase a number of interactives on its front plaza during CIAA week.

Six Figure Entertainment, a private promoter, will host a Friday night “SPEED” party at the hall of fame (10 p.m. to 2 p.m.). The event is in partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings, which operates a restaurant adjacent to the hall of fame.

“We wanted to incorporate the whole NASCAR thing to give the African American community a little closer look at NASCAR,” said Kirk Brown, CEO of Six Figure Entertainment. “I don’t think a lot of us have looked into it.”

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