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The Facts & Figures

The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art occupies approximately 5 acres in City Park adjacent to the Museum. Atypical of most sculpture gardens, this Garden is located within a mature existing landscape of pines, magnolias and live oaks. The garden design creates outdoor viewing spaces within this picturesque landscape. A reconfigured lagoon bisects the site and creates two distinct halves: a mature pine and magnolia grove adjacent to the Museum, and a more open area of 200-year-old, Spanish moss-laden live oaks across the lagoon near the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. The Sculpture Garden has grown from its inception in 2003 to include 63 sculptures, most of them donated to the New Orleans Museum of Art by the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation.

The Sculpture Collection

The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is home to 63 sculptures by artists from around the world. The collection includes work by some of the great master sculptors of the 20th century (Antoine Bourdelle, Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, Louise Bourgeois), as well as younger, contemporary sculptors (Kenneth Snelson, Allison Saar, Joel Shapiro, Jean-Michel Othoniel).

June 29, 2001

November 2003

1 Dueling Oaks Drive, City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana

4.76 acres

Lee Ledbetter Architects, New Orleans

Landscape Architect
Sawyer/Berson Architecture and Landscape Architecture, LLP, New York

Building Size
Two Pavilions, 900 square feet total

Design Features
A pair of cast stone and bronze pavilions with clerestory windows marks the main entry to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The pavilions, which face a large meadow adjacent to the Museum’s entry drive, flank a large plaza containing Henry Moore’s Reclining Mother and Child. The pavilions and entry plaza also establish a centerline through the depth of the Garden that becomes an organizing element of the design.

The garden is bisected by a lagoon which has been reshaped into two basins on either side of the central pedestrian bridge. These lagoon basins each contain a sculpture, Kenneth Snelson’s Virlane Tower and Arman’s Pablo Casal’s Obelisk. The location of these vertical sculptures in the water make their reflections part of the composition.

Three pedestrian bridges cross the lagoon and connect the two sides of the Garden. The entries to the bridges are marked by simple, cast-stone pylons that support bronze lanterns. Side rails constructed of bronze and stainless steel mesh reflect the light an allow views through the bridges. This combination of cast-stone lantern pylons and bronze with stainless steel mesh is repeated in the form of monumental gates at the main entry and two secondary entries.

A picturesque composition of curvilinear paths complements the mature trees while creating smaller viewing areas, or galleries, within the Garden. These paths also connect a series of garden features including the Overlook Terrace, the Exedra at the end of one of the pedestrian bridges, the monumental Water Steps at one of the secondary entrances, the elliptical Sculpture Theater containing smaller pieces of sculpture and the Cascade Garden Pool containing Robert Graham’s Source Figure. The pathways also frame the elliptical Pine Grove immediately off the main entry plaza and the large Oak Grove Lawn at the opposite end of the Garden. With the exception of the lagoon, the Oak Grove Lawn is the most open space in the Garden and contains some of the larger sculptures including works by Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Elizabeth Frink and Joel Shapiro.

Building Materials

  • Limestone-finish architectural pre-cast concrete cladding at buildings and site features
  • Statuary-finish bronze doors, entry gates, bridge handrails and light fixtures
  • Brushed stainless-steel frame and mesh panels on entry gates and bridge handrails
  • Sandblasted glass on Pavilion clerestories and light fixtures
  • Tudor-finish, limestone-gray unit pavers on Garden pathways and plazas
  • Building Facilities
  • Docent Services including an Information Window, Staff Lounge, Staff Restroom, Security Office and Public Restrooms

4.76 acres, including 127,000 square feet of planted area, 50,000 square feet of sod area, and 23,230 square feet of paved areas

Garden Features

  • 63 sculptures
  • 3,236 linear feet of pathways
  • Three pedestrian bridges crossing City Park Lagoon
  • 687 square-foot Cascade Garden Pool
  • Seating areas and terraces with views across the lagoon and through the Garden
  • Site lighting, including specialty lighting for sculptures
  • Ornamental plantings include white and purple blooming lily of the Nile and two varieties of ginger and crinum
  • Holy fern and Asian jasmine ground cover
  • Palmetto St. Augustine sod for all lawn areas
  • A variety of vines at the perimeter fence including evergreen wisteria, yellow jasmine evergreen clematis, star jasmine and rose of Montana
  • A variety of aquatic plantings at the lagoon edge primarily consisting of purple and yellow blooming varieties of Louisiana iris, yellow flag iris, spider lily, butterfly iris and horsetails

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“By far the best choice we made was getting a tour. The information we received on the artists and the works really enlightened our visit.” Sam Haynes