The New Orleans Museum of Art has planted seeds to grow awareness in The Big Easy. The institution reopened its Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, adding six acres to the New Orleans City Park. The expansion, which was privately funded and took 18 months to complete, is a way for NOMA to entice residents to actively participate in both its programs and the greater art world.
“As a museum, we are always focusing on expanding our community access to the arts, growing our constituency, and making all of the museum’s spaces learning environments, inside and out,” says Susan Taylor, the Montine McDaniel Freeman director of NOMA. “This, therefore, seemed like the next obvious step in bolstering our offerings in this area. We like to think of it as our gift to the city.”
Virtually wrapped in a pretty package, the museum now showcases 26 large-scale works from 21st-century artists, including Ursula van Rydingsvard, Teresita Fernández, Frank Gehry, Larry Bell, Hank Willis Thomas, and Beverly Pepper. The pavilion, which was designed by Lee Ledbetter & Associates, stands alongside 64 sculptures already at the garden, and were chosen for their ability to adapt to the specific topography while enhancing the space without denting the ecosystem. “We worked closely with our landscape design partners Reed Hilderbrand to ensure that environmental impact was always at the forefront of our planning,” says Taylor.