The New Orleans Museum of Art opened in 1911 with fewer than a dozen works of art of its own. The collection has grown dramatically over the past 100 years, and magnanimous donors are stepping up to ensure that it remains vibrant and diverse in the next century.
The museum is showcasing 110 new acquisitions donated in honor of the centennial celebration in NOMA 100: Gifts for the Second Century, which is on view through Jan. 22. The pieces add depth to a number of the museum’s collection categories, including European Art before and after 1900, American Art, Asian, Pre-Columbian and Native American, and African and Oceanic.
The breadth of the donations is impressive — from a fragment of a sarcophagus cover circa 712-39 B.C. to Edgar Degas’ “Dancer Adjusting Her Slipper” to a silver presentation cup circa 1895-96 that was designed by William Clark Noble. The gifts also include “Diamond Dust Shoes” by Andy Warhol, wood sculptures from Nigeria, 18th century Sevres porcelain and 30 photographs of jazz musicians by Herman Leonard, who lived in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina.
There is seemingly something for everyone in this exhibition, and our community is fortunate to get such generous and beautiful gifts. As was so much of the city, the art museum was touched by the flooding and devastation that followed Katrina. These works of art, though, are a happy sign for the future.
The collection of new works, which was conceived by Director Emeritus John Bullard and trustee Anne Milling, has been a five-year project. They deserve our thanks for pursuing this project, which will be enjoyed for decades to come.
“NOMA 100 is about telling stories: the story of the museum’s evolution from an 11-object collection to a wide-ranging encyclopedic collection of over 35,000 works today; that of Director Emeritus John Bullard’s enthusiasm and tireless pursuit of extraordinary works and the stories those works of art tell us about a culture, artist, and moment in time,” said Director Susan Taylor.
To Mr. Bullard and Ms. Milling, to Ms. Taylor and all the museum staffers who pulled the exhibit together and, most especially to the art collectors who so generously shared these works of art: Thank you.