Steeg Law is delighted to shine the community spotlight on the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) and the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden expansion.
As a Trustee of NOMA, Chair of the Acquisitions Committee and Member of the Executive Committee, managing partner, Robert M. Steeg, is excited to share the news that the six-acre expansion of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA reopened to the public on May 15, 2019. With environmental impact at the forefront of planning, the sculpture garden expansion emphasizes the distinctive character of the Louisiana landscape while incorporating architectural elements such as the first canal link bridge of its kind in the United States, an outdoor amphitheater and stage, a sculpture pavilion and an outdoor learning environment.
Widely regarded as one of the top sculpture gardens in the world, before the expansion the five-acre garden was home to 64 sculptures from renowned artists from the 19th century to the present. The 26 new large-scale sculptures are by artists working primarily in the 21st century. One of the new sculptures has a plaque on the base with an inscription from Rob, in memory of his parents.
The canal link bridge connects the existing five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden and the garden expansion. Two hundred eighty feet in length, this structure dips into the lagoon, taking visitors down to the waterline and creating the unique experience of walking through water. The canal link is the first design of its kind in the United States, and only the second of its kind in the world.
Artists featured in the expansion include Larry Bell, Tony Cragg, Johan Creten, Katharina Fritsch, Frank Gehry, Jeppe Hein, Georg Herold, Thomas Houseago, Shirazeh Houshiary, Baltasar Lobo, Robert Longo, Gerold Miller, Beverly Pepper, Pedro Reyes, George Rickey, Ursula van Rydingsvard, Sean Scully, Yinka Shonibare, Frank Stella, Hank Willis Thomas, Bernar Venet, and Fred Wilson. A work by Ugo Rondinone will be installed in the garden in late 2019. Two new works have been commissioned for the site: a 60-foot-long mosaic wall by artist Teresita Fernández, and a glass bridge by Elyn Zimmerman.
The Besthoff Sculpture Garden Expansion
The Besthoff Sculpture Garden expansion offers a lush, green space that will allow NOMA to celebrate art, and broaden the museum’s opportunities to engage with the community in an inviting and environmentally sustainable way. The new garden showcases contemporary sculpture that has inspired the landscape architects to engage with the work and emphasize the relationship between landscape and art. A sculpture pavilion is located in the expanded garden, offering exhibition space for indoor sculpture and other works in NOMA’s collection that complement the garden’s installations.
“The Besthoff Sculpture Garden expansion celebrates NOMA’s primary mission of sharing significant art and artists with the broadest possible public. It also incorporates contemporary, innovative approaches for a healthy and sustainable environment into a compelling experience of art,” said Susan Taylor, Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “We look forward to sharing with our public new work by some of the most interesting and important artists working today.”
Focus on Water and Indigenous Vegetation in the Landscape Design
In collaboration with landscape design partners Reed Hilderbrand, NOMA has designed a sculpture garden with water as its focus. A central element of the sculpture garden expansion, the existing lagoon within the perimeters of the sculpture garden has been reshaped to emphasize the expanse of open water, and revitalized to capture, clean and aerate water as a healthy and sustainable resource.
Reshaping and stabilizing the lagoon shoreline increases capacity, improves water quality, and reduces loads on the municipal drainage system. An integrated water management strategy diverts storm water pipes to capture sediments before reaching the lagoon and introduces emergent vegetation to mitigate pollutants. Set within the garden, a weir allows for changes in water level to address flooding potential and re-oxygenate the system as it flows through the garden.
Paying homage to the lush character of the site, the expansion incorporates vegetation indigenous to the region as a setting to experience sculpture and the performing arts. Hundreds of newly planted trees, palmettos, and shrubs align with the historical fabric of the landscape, while preserved-heritage live oaks extend the adjacent canopy through the garden.
Indoor Sculpture Pavilion
Set within the sculpture garden, a 5,000 square foot indoor sculpture pavilion created by Lee Ledbetter & Associates serves as a landmark for the expansion, offering exhibition space for indoor sculpture and other works in NOMA’s collection that complement the garden’s outdoor installations. The gallery’s elliptical shape is reflected inside through curving walls, encouraging movement around the installations. Eighteen-foot ceilings allow for the display of taller work, and continuous skylights around the room’s perimeter emphasize the gallery’s external setting.
An amphitheater provides opportunities for musical, theatrical, and cultural programming, as well as a location for visitors to contemplate the garden. Bermed grass forms gradually stepped seating beneath a grove of trees, overlooking a backlit stage that extends over the lagoon.
Outdoor Learning Environment
An outdoor learning environment offers a flexible and informal gathering space, accommodating classes and facilitating unique pedagogical and youth programming opportunities at the north edge of the garden.
“While the Sculpture Garden expansion builds on the success of the existing garden, we have worked with our design partners to incorporate architectural features that the original garden does not have,” said Walda Besthoff, patron of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. “The principals developing this project have worked hard and well together to achieve an imaginative and exhilarating new space.”
Like the existing garden, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden expansion will be free and open to the public, seven days a week, 9AM to 6PM.
About NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden
The New Orleans Museum of Art, founded in 1910 by Isaac Delgado, houses more than 40,000 works of art encompassing 5,000 years of history. Works from the permanent collection, along with continuously changing special exhibitions, are on view in the museum’s 46 galleries Tuesday through Thursday from 10 AM to 6 PM, Friday from 10 AM to 9 PM, Saturdays from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sundays from 11 AM to 5 PM. NOMA offers docent-guided tours at 1 PM Tuesday – Sunday.
The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to handicapped visitors and wheelchairs are available from the front desk. Museum admission is free on Wednesdays for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. Teenagers (ages 13-19) receive free admission every day through the end of the year, courtesy of The Helis Foundation.