Steeg Law is delighted to shine the community spotlight on the Lapis Center for the Arts at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), which will reopen on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.
As the President of NOMA, managing partner, Robert M. Steeg, will be speaking at the dedication ceremony for the newly renovated cultural space on April 27, 2021. The Lapis Center will serve multiple functions, including film screenings, lectures, theater and dance performances, and much more. The renovation, begun in January 2020, features state-of-the-art surround sound and theatrical lighting, and accommodates seating for up to 360 people. Advancing the museum’s aspirations as a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, the Lapis Center will serve as a platform for interdisciplinary arts experiences and provide opportunities for expanded as well as new community partnerships.
As noted in a statement from the New Orleans Museum of Art, “With the opening of the Lapis Center, NOMA is furthering our commitment to making the arts accessible to our community,” said Susan Taylor, Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of NOMA. “This inspiring, flexible space provides opportunities for the visual and performing arts, allows the museum to expand our offerings, and underscores the role that art has in helping us reach across cultures and mediums to connect with others.”
Generously funded by the Zemurray Foundation, the Lapis Center for the Arts provides a space where the arts can be explored and experienced fully. The Latin word lapis has several meanings— including stone, marker, slab—embodied in the space. Created for the broadest possible expressions of the arts, it serves as a gathering space for many communities and partners where the arts in their myriad manifestations can inspire the imagination and expand the definitions of creativity and inquiry across diverse fields.
Lining the walls of the Lapis Center is Enrique Alférez’s monumental plaster relief mural, Symbols of Communication. One of New Orleans’ most influential artists, Enrique Alférez completed the mural in 1967 for the lobby of the New Orleans Times-Picayune Building. Symbols of Communication celebrates the universal desire to share stories through language, an expression of the humanity and power of the written word. The mural has been given generously to NOMA by partners Joe Jaeger, Barry Kern, Michael White and Arnold Kirschman, where they want it to be enjoyed and viewed for generations to come.
Situated within the Lapis Center is the Azby Fund Stage established in honor of the distinguished attorney and patron of the arts Thomas B. Lemann. Adjacent to the Lapis Center is the newly remodeled Dathel and Tommy Coleman Courtyard. Bathed in natural light, the versatile atrium features glass walls that slide open to transform the space, connecting the Lapis Center for the Arts and the recently renovated Café NOMA, operated by long-term NOMA partner Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group.
NOMA hopes to begin programming in the new spaces in early summer, pending COVID restrictions.
The Lapis Center for the Arts Funding
The Zemurray Foundation generously provided the lead gift to support the Lapis Center for the Arts. The Zemurray Foundation’s significant contribution to this effort is the latest in a long history of generous gifts dating back nearly 60 years. The foundation has supported many aspects of museum operations, from capital projects, to conservation and acquisition efforts, to funding curatorial positions and exhibitions. Notably, in 2017, NOMA created the Zemurray Fund for Curatorial and Scholarly Advancement, an endowment that supports research by the Doris Zemurray Stone Curatorial Fellow, and advances scholarship on topics related to NOMA’s permanent collection. The fund supports the research activity of emerging scholars and adjunct curators, with a special focus on collaborations with local and regional institutions of higher education.
Additional support for the project comes from Dathel and Tommy Coleman, Ralph and Susan Brennan, the Azby Fund and Robinson Lumber Company.
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 Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. The adjoining Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features work by more than 90 sculptures, including works from several 20th and 21st-century master sculptors. NOMA’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to visitors with disabilities. Wheelchairs are available from the front desk. Museum admission is free on Wednesdays for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. Children 12 and under receive free admission. Teenagers (ages 13-19) receive free admission courtesy of The Helis Foundation.