The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), New Orleans’ oldest fine arts institution, t is situated within City Park, a short distance from the intersection of Carrollton Avenue and Esplanade Avenue. NOMA opened on December 16, 1911 with only 9 works of art. Today, the museum hosts an impressive permanent collection of almost 40,000 objects. The collection, noted for its extraordinary strengths in French and American art, photography, glass, and African and Japanese works, continues to expand and grow, making NOMA one of the top art museums in the south.
The permanent collection at the museum features over 40,000 objects, from the Italian Renaissance to the modern era.
NOMA’s furniture collection includes important examples of 18th and 19th century American furniture and a small group of exquisite 18th century French pieces. Highlights include The Rosemonde E. and Emile Kuntz Rooms, exhibiting choice examples of America’s fine and decorative arts heritage in New Orleans. The rooms were first conceived by Felix H. Kuntz [1890-1971], the Dean of Americana fine & decorative arts, books, and ephemera. His brother Emile N. Kuntz was charged with constructing and furnishing the rooms as a memorial to their parents. The rooms were completed by Mr. Emile Kuntz’s widow, Julia Hardin Kuntz, and daughters, Rosemonde K. Capomazza di Campolattaro and Karolyn K. Westervelt. The Louisiana Federal Bedchamber, shows how a room of this type might have looked in a fine New Orleans townhouse or great south Louisiana plantation house during the first quarter of the 19th Century.
The museum is noted for its collection of European and American works, including works by Degas, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, Pissarro, Rodin, Gauguin, Braque, Dufy, Miró, Jackson Pollock, Mary Cassatt, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The museum features a comprehensive survey of French art, including several important works by the French Impressionist Edgar Degas, who lived with his mother’s family in New Orleans between 1871 and 1872.
Among the permanent exhibition is a survey of local Louisiana artists, as well as other American artists. The museum also features collections of photography, glass, ceramics, portrait miniatures, Native American Art, Central American art from pre-Columbian and Spanish eras, Chinese ceramics, Japanese painting, Indian sculpture and folk arts from Africa, Indonesia, and the South Pacific.
The New Orleans Museum of Art was initially funded through a charitable grant by local philanthropist and art collector Isaac Delgado. The museum building itself was partly designed by the former chief engineer of New Orleans Benjamin Morgan Harrod.
The museum includes the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a 5-acre landscaped area behind the main building. The gated garden features fifty modern sculptures set among live oaks, pines, magnolias, camellias, lagoons, several bridges, and a walking trail.
The five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA is one of the most important sculpture installations in the United States, with over 60 sculptures situated on a beautifully landscaped site amongst meandering footpaths, reflecting lagoons, Spanish moss-laden 200-year-old live oaks, mature pines, magnolias, camellias, and pedestrian bridges.
The museum also includes a gift shop, a small theater for film screenings, and the “Courtyard Cafe: A Ralph Brennan Restaurant.”
The museum works in close collaboration with other local museums, especially The Historic New Orleans Collection and the Louisiana State Museum, in developing its special exhibitions. Special exhibitions in the past have included the treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb, relics of Alexander the Great and his times, artifacts from the Louisiana Purchase and that era, a retrospective of Edgar Degas in Louisiana, “Femme! Femme! Femme!” featuring depictions of women in 18th century French painting, “Carneval!” focusing on pre-Lenten festivals across several European and American cultures (including Mardi Gras in New Orleans), and several anniversary exhibitions related to Hurricane Katrina.
The museum offers guided group tours, teacher workshops, online teacher guides, and visits to local schools through a museum-on-wheels known as “Van Go.” The museum also hosts festivals, film screenings, music programs, lectures, and wellness activities.