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Maria Howard Arts Center

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About Our Namesake

Maria Howard came to Rocky Mount in 1946 from Antwerp, Belgium as a young bride. She had married Major Herbert Howard, an American soldier, in Belgium the year before. Before moving to this country, she studied for five years at the Antwerp School of Design-she received her diploma after four years and planned to complete two more years, but all schools in Antwerp were closed in 1944-45 when the V-I's bombed the City. The war ended and, as Herbert prepared to return home, they got married and she prepared to join him in the US.

Maria Howard loved the Arts Center and took great pride in participating in the many events that took place here during her life time. She was an artistically talented individual who did not hide her talents "under a bushel"-she was, in fact, a charter member of the Arts Center, dating back to before the Arts Center became a part of the City of Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department. And she was a staunch supporter of renovating the Imperial Centre into the wonderful facility you visit today.

Maria Howard had a great love for this country, for this City, and especially for this Arts Center. Her life in this country and involvement in the activities of this community are models for anyone who relocates to a foreign environment, embraces the community and becomes a contributing citizen. Maria Howard was that type of person. This community will benefit from her generosity for years to come.

The Arts Center produces visual and performing arts programming with an emphasis on art education for all ages. Through exhibitions, community theatre, classes, and special events, the Center offers a wide variety of programming to achieve this goal. The Arts Center is a division of the City of Rocky Mount Parks & Recreation Department.


The Arts Center's Galleryshop features items in various mediums such as clay, wood, fiber, metal jewelry, glass and more. Located just inside the Arts Center's entrance, works are available for immediate sale and pick-up. Most of the artists featured in the shop are from North Carolina or have ties to the state or the Arts Center. Artists include Matt Jones, Shawn Ireland, Sam Shelby, Joe Winter, Victoria Hunter, Jonathan Bowling, Erwin Wilde, Dwight Holland, Mark Peters and more.

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Details and Specs

Hours of Operation:
Tue10:00 AM5:00 PM
Wed10:00 AM5:00 PM
Thr10:00 AM5:00 PM
Fri10:00 AM5:00 PM
Sat10:00 AM5:00 PM
Sun1:00 PM5:00 PM
Notes: Holiday Closings The Arts Center is closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.


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