NOMA Sculpture Garden

Occupying five acres of New Orleans City Park to the west of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden opened as a result of the Besthoffs’ desire to display their collection of large-scale sculptures within a space evocative of Louisiana’s unique landscape. The sculpture garden opened with 50 sculptures (41 donated by the Besthoff Foundation and nine works from the museum’s permanent collection), and now has over 60 pieces on display.

November 2003
John Berson
Brian Sawyer
Brian Sawyer
Tim Orlando

The landscape plan comprises a network of walkways, plazas, and gardens woven through an existing park landscape of grand live oaks and recontoured lagoons. A picturesque composition of curvilinear paths compliments the mature trees while creating smaller viewing areas, or “galleries,” within the garden.

“We specifically wanted the three bridges and the walks to have different views of the sculptures in a complete “surround” basis. And there are no “keep off the grass” signs.”
Sydney Besthoff

These re-shaped lagoon basins each contain a sculpture, Snelson’s “Virlane Tower” and Arman’s “Pablo Casal’s Obelisk”. Their reflections become part of the compositions by locating these vertical sculptures in the water.

The Oak Lawn is the most open space in the garden and contains some of the larger sculptures, including works by Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Joel Shapiro, and Claes Oldenburg.

“…The architectural concept has no straight lines; everything is curved. It’s a real English countryside garden, in the style of Capability Brown. We specifically wanted to get away from the Italian Renaissance and the French formal look. So, the walks and the concepts were designed with that in mind.”
Sydney Besthoff