Another year is marked off the calendars, and the New Orleans Museum of Art is embarking on an ambitious 2014. This year promises to be full of new exhibitions and initiatives, and more diverse programming than ever before.
NOMA begins 2014 by hosting the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) for the Mid-Winter Meeting, January 12-14. This is AAMD’s first return to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, and what a different, revitalized city they will find! Our colleagues at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Contemporary Arts Center will join us in welcoming these professionals representing the leading art museums across North America.
The year also starts with a major exterior change—the redesign of the reflecting pool and the installation of a sculpture by the late Roy Lichtenstein. Five Brushstrokes, 1984 (fabricated in 2010), given to the museum by Sydney and Walda Besthoff and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, is a momentous acquisition, and a remarkable example of Lichtenstein’s sculptural work. Five Brushstrokes is art about art, or in the words of Walda Besthoff, “It says art, art, art, here we are!” Its striking presence is a fitting welcome to the museum. The pool and sitting area around the sculpture, which will be completed in the spring, will be a place for visitors to relax and experience the work and the picturesque setting of City Park.
Moving indoors, NOMA has redesigned the African art galleries on the third floor. Bill Fagaly, the Françoise Billion Richardson Curator of African Art, has conceived a new installation of NOMA’s African masterpieces. This permanent collection presentation reintroduces visitors to the museum’s significant holdings.
Be on the lookout for more new permanent collection installations later in 2014, as our two newest curatorial staff members, Mel Buchanan and Lucia Abramovich, work to reinterpret NOMA’s important decorative arts and Spanish colonial paintings and sculpture. Buchanan, the RosaMary Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, is focusing on new installations in the second floor decorative arts wing of the museum, and a recent generous endowment gift by NOMA Trustee Tim Favrot will allow her to fully explore new design and curatorial opportunities for this area of the collection. Lucia Abramovich, NOMA’s first Spanish Colonial Fellow, has also begun an in-depth analysis of the museum’s extensive Spanish colonial paintings. We welcome both scholars’ expertise and insight on these areas of strength in the museum’s permanent collection. A recent gift from the Ella West Freeman Foundation will provide lead funding for the reinstallation of the collection.
We“re pleased to host one of the most significant photography exhibitions in recent years, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photography and the American Civil War is a historic display of familiar and rare photographs taken of the Civil War. Opening in January, this exhibition not only documents this harrowing time in American history, but also marks the evolving role of the camera.
Finally, curator Miranda Lash has dedicated the last several years to an important curatorial undertaking that will premier in New Orleans in February, before its national tour. Mel Chin: Rematch- is a major retrospective of the conceptual artist’s work, covering his forty-year career. Chin’s oeuvre, sometimes described as environmental, activist, public or performance, is always compelling, and challenges the boundaries of what defines art. We look forward to welcoming him and presenting his work to our community, and eagerly anticipate the vibrant conversation that it will surely spark. Please join us at the New Orleans Museum of Art.