One Collins Diboll Circle, City Park
New Orleans, LA 70124
Wednesday: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Thursday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed Legal Holidays
Endowed in 1911 by Isaac Delgado, a sugar cane planter who was a great educational philanthropist, the Museum was built in the Beaux Arts-style, a 25,00 square foot temple. Since then, the Museum has expanded greatly, and includes the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. With its collection, the Museum ranks among the top 25 percent of the nation’s most significant museums.
The Museum has a permanent collection of over 40,000 objects, in 46 galleries, valued at more than $200 million. Favorite collections include 44 miniature “Easter eggs” carved by Peter Carl Fabergé and displayed on 3 objects: 13 on a miniature golden tree, 19 on a gold Russian necklace and 12 on a bracelet. Added to these are more traditional Fabergé Easter Eggs, a pink clock set formerly owned by the last Tsarina of Russia, a Bismark Box studded with 90 carats of diamonds, cigarette cases, clocks,and numerous other objects.
In keeping with New Orleans’ history, the Museum emphasizes French art. French Impressionist Edgar Degas is well-represented here, and there are paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Braque, Dufy, Miro, and other artists from the School of Paris.
An “Arts of the Americas” collection surveys the cultural heritage the Americas from pre-Columbian times through the Spanish Colonial era. There is a valuable assemblage of Mayan objects from Mexico and Central America, and art from ancient Cuzco. Regarding American art, the Museum features a suite of period rooms featuring important 18th and 19th century furniture.
The Sculpture Garden
The garden itself is a work of art. It’s a 5-acre garden under cypress and magnolia trees, as well as, centuries-old oak trees ladened with Spanish moss, in the heart of City Park. It is beautifully landscaped. The garden contains several water features including a small cascading garden pool with stepping stones to cross. A lagoon that bisects the garden empties into two large basins, each containing a large sculpture. A sculpture pool cascades down into one of the lagoon basins. The lagoons are filled with fish and turtles. Herons and swans inhabit the area as well. Pathways wonder through the garden and lead to the larger sculptures. Because these paths were designed to preserve the extensive root patterns of the over 200 year-old live oak trees, they wonder through the garden in a design dictated by nature. Smaller sculptures are exhibited in the elliptical Sculpture Theater.
In the exhibit you’ll see works by Fernando Botero, Antoine Bourdelle, Gaston Lachaise, William Zorach, Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, Barbara Hepworth, Seymour Lipton, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Kenneth Snelson, George Rickey, Elisabeth Frink, Masayuki Nagare, Lynn Chadwick, Louis Bourgeois, Jesus Bautista Moroles, George Segal,Deborah Butterfield, Alison Saar and Joel Shapiro. Many of the sculptures are gifts from the collection of Sydney and Walda Bestoff, and is valued at over $25 million. So, enjoy a day in New Orleans City Park with a visit to this special art exhibit as a bonus.
Louisiana’s culture often seems to have sprung from its fertile soil. Out of the rich Louisiana sugar fields, New Orleans received a gift of lasting culture in early 1910, when sugar broker Isaac Delgado offered the city $150,000 to build a “temple of art for rich and poor alike” in City Park. The neo-classical, Beaux Arts-style Isaac Delgado Museum of Art opened in December 1911, but sadly, Delgado was too ill to attend. He died weeks later, and left yet another generous gift, an art collection gathered by his late aunt. Delgado’s 25,000-square-foot “temple” is still at the center of the now much larger New Orleans Museum of Art.
The Museum houses a $200 million collection in 46 galleries: European painting and sculpture from the 16th through 20th centuries; American painting and sculpture from the 18th and 19th centuries; European and American prints and drawings; Asian, African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian, and Native American art; photography; and European and American decorative arts. Special collections include the Peter Carl Fabergé treasures and the Latin American Colonial collection. NOMA’s Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden has become the latest cultural destination for locals and a must-see for visitors to the Crescent City. The world-class collection of 50 modern and contemporary sculpture is presented in an incredible, five-acre natural setting with delights at every turn.
The Museum ranks among the top 25 percent of the nation’s largest and most significant museums, and is the premier art museum in the Gulf South region. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have passed through its doors to see landmark international exhibitions such as “The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt”, “Jefferson’s America & Napoleon’s France”, “The Treasures of Tutankhamun”, “The Search for Alexander the Great”, “The Art of the Muppets”, and “Monet: Late Paintings of Giverny from the Musé Marmottan.”
Museum members and students of member universities are allowed to use general research materials — auction catalogues and artist files, for example — in the Felix J. Dreyfous Research Library. Other interested researchers may make appointments to view some of the library’s non-circulating 30,000 volumes.
The New Orleans Museum of Art is located at the end of Esplanade Avenue just inside the sprawling City Park. It sits at the end of a long drive and is fronted by an impressive historic building built in the early 1900’s. The main portion of the museum is located in an addition that is neatly tucked away in the rear of the compound. The three story exhibition space is home to the museum’s gift shop, cafe, permanent collection and visiting/special exhibits. Frankly, I was not expecting the quality or quantity of artworks I encountered inside, and certainly did not expect to see the sculpture garden, one of the best I have visited. Even if you are not particularly interested in the arts, you should take the time to walk around the garden and discover the surprises that await. One funny thing we noticed: Apparently the director of the museum bet the director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art that the Saints would win the Super Bowl. The wager: The losing museum would loan a significant work from their collection to the other museum for three months. The tag below the loaned work ended with “WHO DAT MUSEUM.”