NoLa Diary #3 – NOMA and adjoining Sculpture Garden

The New Orleans Museum of Art is celebrating a big birthday this week. NOMA turns 100 years old, and this Friday and Saturday (12/16 & 12/17/2011) the museum is planning a bash and is allowing all visitors in for free on both days.

New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)

Travel Tip: To visit NOMA, just hop on the City Park streetcar on Canal Street (the edge of the French Quarter) and take it to the end. The streetcar trip can take 20-25 minutes so allow plenty of time to get there and back. Cross the street and enter City Park, NOMA is the first building you’ll see.

NOMA celebrates 100 years

Being from New York City, I’m incredibly spoiled when it comes to museums. MoMA, the Metropolitan, the Museum of Natural History are all towering examples of insanely well curated collections so when I travel I love to see what local curators do with their (usually) smaller spaces and budgets.

NOMA does not disappoint, and frankly, they have a wonderfully eclectic mix of art from different time periods and different cultures. The museum is 3 floors and with the exception of a traveling Fabrege exhibition, all of the galleries permitted the use of photography (without flash, of course.) Boy am I glad they allowed photography, I was snap happy today and took over 100 shots of the artworks and sculpture gardens. Some of my shots, sadly, are blurry or show reflections from glass but they give you a flavor of the incredible artworks.

John Biggers – Blessing the People – Detail

Their Contemporary gallery entrance was graced by this wonderful Frank Stella painting. In addition to Stella, they have pieces by Lee Krasner, Richard Serra, Miro, Jean DuBuffet, Dale Chihuly and many others. In an adjoining gallery, they have one piece by Picasso as well.

Work by Frank Stella

Of course, if you are into Native American pottery you would absolutely go crazy over this Hopi pot made by Nampeyo (they had several unbelievable examples of Nampeyo pots in perfect condition displayed as part of their collection, I could hardly believe they had so many).

Nampeyo Hopi pot – NOMA (This is the real deal – a Nampeyo pot is incredibly rare, NOMA has a whole collection of them!)

And of course, if you are going to NOMA you would be crazy to leave city park before taking a stroll through the particularly lovely sculpture garden behind the museum building. The sculpture garden is always free, while NOMA offers free admissions only on Wednesday (this week’s 100 year birthday celebration is the exception.)

This beautiful sculpture of a head by the (very well known French sculptor) Rodin is one of the newest pieces to be added to the garden, but the sculpture garden has over 70 truly fantastic examples of work spanning the classical, modern and post-modern genres.

NOMA’s new sculpture “bauble” – a bust by Rodin

If you get overwhelmed by all that art, you may need to just relax and look at the scenery. The grounds are immaculately kept and graced by beautiful bridges and artful landscaping, like what you see below.

Just a few photos from today’s excursion do not do justice to NOMA’s collections or the garden. The residents of New Orleans are lucky to have these jewels available to them anytime. I can easily see how a warm, sunny day could easily be spent in City Park whether you visit the museum or not – but for a traveler, NOMA should be a must-see,  along with the sculpture garden.


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