New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden

New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden.jpg

Art At The New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden

While we were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, we planned 8 days in New Orleans to give us some time to see a bit more of the town as well. In planning our “to see” list, several sources suggested that we needed to make sure we made it to the outdoor Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). We had enjoyed walking around the Riverfront outdoor sculpture garden on our fall visit to Spokane and hoped the New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden would offer the same interesting mix of art and nature.

There is no admission charge if you want to visit just the sculpture gardens. On this trip, we would pass on visiting the Museum of Art (a mere $10 admission charge) and save it for another visit when we had more time.

It was a short walk from our hotel to the bus stop. The New Orleans transit daily bus pass at $3 was a bargain compared to transit prices at home in Toronto. The bus would drop us right off at the gates of City Park allowing us to conserve our energy to walk through the park to the museum and stroll around the New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden.

We were amused  to find a sign outside City Park talking about the coming Chinese Lantern Festival.  It brought to mind our visit to the Spokane Chinese Lantern Festival.  While we looked for signs that the lantern construction had begun, we did not find any early work in progress as we had on the early stop in Spokane which triggered our return visit.

The museum building itself was adorned with a colourful modern art sculpture in the fountain outside.

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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Five Brushstokes, Roy Lichtenstein

The New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden is right beside the museum and is about five acres within a setting of pines, magnolias and moss-laden oaks set around a lagoon. The garden provides the natural setting for a collection of over 60 modern and contemporary sculptures by renowned artists from around the world. Dogs, bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards and picnicking are not allowed in the sculpture garden and wandering guards will ask you to leave if you ignore these rules. You are allowed to touch the sculptures, but not to climb on them. Of course, you may pose in artful ways with the sculptures!

We proceeded on a slow meandering stroll to see the broad array of more contemporary statues in stone and metal around the park.

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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Reclining Mother and Child, Henry Moore
Mother and Child - New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden.jpg
NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Mother and Child, Fernando Botero
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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Diana, Augustus Saint-Guadens
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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – The Drummer, Michael Sandle

Fun and Colour At The New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden

The New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden included several modern metal pieces made with interesting approaches, including a pile of monkeys, a piece made of letters and a statue that went on and on replicating into the sky!

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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Monkeys, Rona Pondick
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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Overflow, Jaume Plensa

Karma - New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden.jpg

Karma - New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden.jpg
NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Karma, Do-Ho Suh

Before you leave all the shiny metal sculptures, don’t miss on the chance to get the ultimate in selfie picture.

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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Untitled, Anish Kapoor

But also blended into the sculpture mix at the New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden was a number of very modern colourful pieces.

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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – We Stand Together, George Rodrigue
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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Perfect Vehicles, Allan McCollum
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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Safety Pin Blue, Claes Oldenburg

There is a favourite statue that people seek out when they visit the Sculpture Garden. Everyone stops to take a picture of the LOVE statue and we would not miss this either.

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NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – LOVE, Red Blue, Robert Indiana

Tranquility At The New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden

If you really wanted to be alone to enjoy the quiet, you could find the kind of park company that David liked – quiet and serene.

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Three Figures and Four Benches - New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden.jpg
NOMA – New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden – Three Figures and Four Benches, George Segal

Whether contemporary or more modern, the art in the New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden is spread about the gardens in harmony with nature. Many were sheltered in small groves of trees and others seemed to be part of the natural park setting. As the light shifted around you got different views of the statues and shadows.

While the sculptures are a big draw, the natural beauty of the gardens will also draw you relax as you walk. There are lots of benches around the park to stop and contemplate a piece of art or to just enjoy the sunshine under the moss-laden trees.

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We diverted around a large group of ducks swimming in the pond and another group sunning themselves on the walkway. Later we found a Snowy Egret diving for fish.

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New Orleans Outdoor Sculpture Garden.jpg

Once we had finished our stroll around the New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden we headed off in search of coffee and a rest. We considered the Morning Call cafe in the park by the river but were told that the coffee at the Cafe NOMA was better. You could enter the museum just to visit the cafe or gift shop without paying the entrance fee.

It was not hard to find the Cafe NOMA, we could just follow our nose. It was almost lunch time and it smelled delicious. We debated having something off the great lunch menu but looking at the selection of muffins, cakes and specialty coffees, we finally decided we would just have a snack. Taking our specialty coffees (one caramel latte and one iced mocha) with a local Chocolate Doberge cake, we found a comfortable spot on the sofa by a large picture window. We plied our hostess with questions to get several referrals for local treats we must try and other great spots to eat in New Orleans.

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It had been a great morning exploring the New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden. The sun was shining and this gave us a good relaxing break before the craziness of Mardi Gras in New Orleans began. Next time we will plan to visit the museum as well.  A great thing to do when you visit outside of Mardi Gras time!

Did you visit the New Orleans outdoor sculpture garden? Did you have a favourite piece of art? What other art attraction would you recommend in New Orleans?

About TravelAtWill 286 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

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