NOMA’s Historic Urns Undergo Revitalization

The New Orleans Museum of Art’s Historic Urns Undergo Revitalization

(New Orleans, LA) – Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by the architect Samuel A. Marx of Natchez, MS, the New Orleans Museum of Art is a handsome presence in City Park and a sought after destination for residents and tourists alike.

Two of the most striking features of the building are the grand terracotta urns that flank the entrance portico, which have just undergone a restoration three-week process that ended in mid-May.

“NOMA’s façade is an iconic landmark for New Orleans,” said Director Susan Taylor. “The urns are a constant presence and backdrops for events we host on the front steps. We are delighted that the urns have been restored to their original brilliance.”

After an exhaustive nation-wide search, NOMA contracted with Milner + Carr Conservation (MCC), LLC of Philadelphia, PA, who has a strong reputation in both the conservation of glazed terracotta and in working with urns. This conservation firm specializes in the treatment of historic buildings, architectural components, sculpture and monuments.

In addition to age and severe weather, a number of attempts to preserve these urns over the last century had resulted in damage that had to be professionally repaired in order to save these important architectural elements. In addition, the urns’ original covers had disappeared over time and needed to be reconstructed.

The two urns were manufactured by the Gates Pottery Company in 1910 and installed at the time the museum opened in 1911. Each urn is comprised of five separate units of terracotta, the largest of which is estimated to weigh upwards of 900 pounds. In keeping with the building’s neo-classical style, the sides of the urns are decorated with classical figures in high bias relief.

A special thanks to the American Express Foundation, the Libby-Dafour Fund and the Garden Study Club of New Orleans for partnering with us on this important conservation project. The urn restoration was the part of a larger portico renovation effort that included restoration work on NOMA ‘s bronze entry door and frame, the cast iron transom, cast iron torchieres and resurfacing the museum’s entry ramp and portico decking that was lead by the NOMA Volunteer Committee.

NOMA Admission
Wednesdays are FREE for all museum visitors. Adults, $10; Seniors (65 and up) and Students, $8; Children 7-17, $6; Children 6 and under, free. Free Wednesdays are made possible through the generosity of The Helis Foundation.
About NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden

The New Orleans Museum of Art, founded in 1910 by Isaac Delgado, houses over 35,000 art objects encompassing 4,000 years of world art. Works from the permanent collection, along with continuously changing temporary exhibitions, are on view in the Museum’s 46 galleries Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The adjacent Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features work by 62 artists, including several of the 20th century’s master sculptors. The Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. except for Fridays when it’s open until 8:45 p.m. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to handicapped visitors and wheelchairs are available from the front desk. For more information about NOMA, call (504) 658-4100 or visit