Arts in New Orleans

Tulane is a Tier-1 research university located in the dynamic city of New Orleans, an international and culturally rich setting. 

New Orleans is home to numerous highly regarded art institutions. Students are encouraged to take advantage of internships at local museums and cultural institutions, and to pursue research on objects in local collections.

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is a small encyclopedic museum known for collection strengths in French art, 19th-century American painting, photography, glass and ceramics, African art, Japanese art, and pre-Columbian art. Friday Nights at NOMA feature art performances, music, family activities, film screenings, and lectures. NOMA is home to the recently expanded Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, featuring works by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Hepworth, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Yinka Shonibare, and Frank Stella, as well as a new 60-foot-long mosaic wall by artist Teresita Fernández, and glass bridge by Elyn Zimmerman. NOMA is located in the 1,300-acre City Park New Orleans, home to numerous Art Deco sculptures and buildings created during the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration, including dozens by Mexican sculptor Enrique Alférez. 

The Warehouse District, also known as the Arts District of New Orleans, is home to the Contemporary Arts Center, an exhibition and performance space, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, known for its Ogden After Hours events on Thursdays, 6-8pm. The Arts District is also home to a number of commercial art galleries along Julia Street. First Saturday Gallery Openings are held every first Saturday of the month at galleries around Julia Street, beginning at 6pm.

Second Saturday Gallery Openings are held by the alternative galleries and collective art spaces of the St Claude Arts District, around the Marigny, St. Roch and Bywater neighborhoods, with openings and events on the second Saturday of most months.

Contemporary art is also well-represented in New Orleans, with the triennial Prospect New Orleans (Prospect.5: October 23, 2021 – January 23, 2022) and the Joan Mitchell Foundation working to link local and international arts communities. The Joan Mitchell Center holds regular Open Studios and Artist Talks in conjunction with its renowned Artist-in-Residence Program.

In addition to the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Artist-in-Residence Program, prominent residency programs including A Studio in the Woods and Spillways bring national and international contemporary artists to New Orleans, while local artists benefit from opportunities such as Antenna’s Louisiana Open Call, the Artist-in-Residence program at Longue Vue House & Gardens and the New Orleans Arts Council’s SALON Residency.

Local institutions The Historic New Orleans Collection and Longue Vue House & Gardens feature exhibitions on both historical and contemporary art and architecture, with a particular interest in practices based in and around New Orleans.

Fall 2018 sadly saw the conclusion of art critical and curatorial activities by New Orleans arts organization Pelican Bomb — though its extensive Art Review is still archived online. To fill this gap in New Orleans arts coverage, New Orleans has recently seen expanded coverage in Burnaway, an Atlanta-based digital magazine of contemporary art and criticism from the American South.

On the Tulane University campus, there are a number of exhibition venues.

Tulane’s Carroll Gallery (Woldenberg Art Center) exhibits work by faculty and students affiliated with the Newcomb Art Department, as well as a limited exhibition program focused primarily on local and regional artists.

The Newcomb Art Museum (Woldenberg Art Center) operates primarily on a Kunsthalle model, hosting temporary exhibitions of contemporary art as well as semi-permanent installations of the renowned late-19th- and early-20th-century ceramics of the Newcomb Pottery enterprise.

Tulane’s Latin American Library (Howard Tilton Memorial Library, 4th floor) hosts regular exhibitions focused on historical and contemporary visual culture of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Southeastern Architectural Archive (Jones Hall) holds regular exhibits of its collection materials concerning the built environment of New Orleans and Louisiana.

The Amistad Research Center (Tilton Memorial Hall) collects, preserves, and exhibits original materials related to the social and cultural importance of America's ethnic and racial history, the African Diaspora, human relations, and civil rights.   

Tulane’s Middle American Research Institute (Dinwiddie Hall) features exhibits drawn from an extensive collection of textiles, artifacts, and an archive of letters, field notes, maps, and photographs from the scores of field projects it has sponsored. MARI sponsors the annual Tulane Maya Symposium each spring.

[Jennifer Odem, Rising Tables, 2017]