Museum Timeline

Isaac Delgado gives $150,000 to the City Park Improvements Association for the erection of an art museum for the city of New Orleans to be located on the land in City Park. The prize for the architectural design of the museum is awarded to Samuel A. Marx of Chicago.

The cornerstone dedication ceremony takes place at the museum on March 22. The Isaac Delgado Museum of Art opens to the public at 2 p.m. on December 16, with the opening ceremony attended by Mayor Martin Behrman and three thousand others.

A first gift from Samuel H. Kress — Madonna and Child by Giovani de Biondo — begins a long relationship between the museum and Samuel H. Kress Foundation.The museum is almost forced to close because of budget cuts by the city of New Orleans. An uproar in the city’s newspaper forces the city to reinstate the funds.

The show Picasso: Forty Years of His Art, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, includes Guernica.

An exhibit of masterpieces, French Painting Through Five Centuries, 1400-1900, from the Louvre, is held. It has been organized to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. Attendance for the year 1953 is a record 104,000.

First annual Odyssey Ball premieres exhibition Odyssey of an Art Collector: Unity In Diversity/ Five Thousand Years of Art.

The board of trustees changes the name of the institution to New Orleans Museum of Art.

The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums, Washington, D.C.

E. John Bullard becomes the fifth director of the museum. He begins NOMA’s photography collection.

Treasures of Tutankhamun opens at the museum and is seen by 900,000 persons in four months.

The museum purchases Portrait of Marie Antoinette, by Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, for $500,000 in observance of NOMA’s 75th anniversary.

The museum embarks on a year-long celebration of its Diamond Jubilee. NOMA plans an expansion program that will almost double the size of the building.

A fundraiser that was to become an annual favorite, Art in Bloom, blossoms for the first time.

NOMA presents a five-month exhibition of the sculpture of Auguste Rodin from the Gerald Cantor Collections, the largest and most comprehensive private assemblage in the world.

Ground-breaking ceremonies herald the commencement of construction on the museum’s extension, with $20 million raised to achieve it.

Music, entertainment, and family fun celebrate the opening of the $23 million expansion and renovation project. The scale of the project, coupled with increased art acquisitions, place NOMA into the top 25 percent of the nation’s largest and most important fine art museums.

Long the home to the Faberge collection of the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation, NOMA hosts a major national Faberge exhibition tour Faberge in America.

The board of Trustees authorizes a multi-million dollar campaign to fund the construction of the Besthoff Sculpture Garden and endow its operation.

To commemorate the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase, the museum organizes one of its most ambitious presentations ever, Jefferson’s America and Napoleon’s France, with more than 260 objects from numerous institutions in the USA and Europe.

The donation by the Besthoff family of more than forty major sculptures by modern masters and the creation of the free Besthoff Sculpture Garden, now open to the public, is a magnificent benefit to NOMA and the people of New Orleans.

Hurricane Katrina closes NOMA, fortunately with no damage to the collection, although $6 million in damage to the building and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden is sustained; more than 80 members of staff are laid off; a skeleton staff of sixteen remains, working from borrowed quarters in Baton Rouge while the museum and New Orleans recover.

The museum, closed for seven months, re-opens with four exhibitions. Important works from the permanent collection travel the country in four exhibitions to raise money for hurricane recovery: Impressionists and Modern Masters from the New Orleans Museum of Art; Resonance from the Past: African Sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art; From the Big Easy to the Big Apple: Two Centuries of Art in Louisiana; The Odyssey Continues: Masterworks from the New Orleans Museum of Art and from Private New Orleans Collections.

An exceptionally generous gift from the people of France, the exhibition Femme, Femme, Femme: Paintings of Women in French Society from Daumier to Picasso from the Museums of France brings 85 works of art assembled from 45 institutions to fulfill a promise of support made just two months after the disaster.

The Walt Disney Studio generously underwrites major exhibition, Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio, presented exclusively at NOMA, the only U.S. venue for this exhibition.

Closed for eight months for comprehensive restoration of damage done by Hurricane Katrina, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden re-opens with a ceremony of ribbon-cutting and re-dedication.

After nearly thirty-eight years of service, E. John Bullard retires as Director, becoming Director Emeritus and manager of the Centennial Celebration.

After a nation-wide search, Trustees select Susan Taylor as NOMA’s sixth Director.

The museum celebrates its centennial year with exhibitions that highlight NOMA’s vast permanent collection and a 31-hour birthday party from December 16-17, which is free and open to the public.

NOMA celebrates the tricentennial of New Orleans’s founding by hosting The Orléans Collection, bringing together for the first time in more than 250 years select paintings and sculpture from the globally dispersed collection of the city’s regal namesake, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans and Regent of France.

The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden doubles in size with an additional 27 works by artists primarily working in the 21st-century. The five-acre expansion is also a model for water management and eco-sensitive landscaping.