About the Expansion

Aerial view of the six-acre expansion of the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Photo by John Kett courtesy of Reed Hildebrand.

NOMA OPENS SIX-ACRE EXPANSION OF THE sydney and walda besthoff sculpture garden

The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is now home to more than 90 sculptures by renowned artists from around the world

In its effort to further unite, inspire, and engage the New Orleans community, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) embarked upon an expansion of the renowned Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in 2018. After more than a year of construction, the addition opened on May 15, 2019. NOMA’s initiative to expand the sculpture garden enables the museum to continue sharing significant art and artists with the broadest possible public. The sculpture garden expansion is privately funded, with sites for sculpture, as well as an outdoor amphitheatre and stage, pedestrian bridges and walkways, a new gallery, and an outdoor learning environment.

“This significant undertaking reinforces NOMA’s integral role in serving the diverse communities of New Orleans,” said Susan Taylor, the Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of NOMA. “Like the beloved current sculpture garden, the expanded sculpture garden and new gallery is free and open to the public seven days a week.”


The diverse character of the vegetation and lagoon setting offered many opportunities for commissioned works, and for visitors to experience sculpture. Contemporary 21st-century sculptures inspired by the space are located in the open lawn, under tree canopies, across open water, on cypress islands, and within understory planting, all connected by pedestrian bridges designed to complement the landscape.

A new gallery is located in the expanded sculpture garden, offering exhibition space for indoor sculpture and other works in NOMA’s collection that complement the garden’s installations.

Community and Programming

The expansion enables NOMA to offer increased programming and learning environments for offerings like film screenings, theater productions, musical performances, events, tours, and festivals. An outdoor classroom at the north edge of the garden will provide a flexible and informal gathering space, offering opportunities for classes, special projects, and enrichment.


With environmental impact at the forefront of NOMA’s planning, the sculpture garden expansion emphasized the distinctive character of the Louisiana landscape. NOMA, in collaboration with Reed-Hilderbrand and Lee Ledbetter & Associates, ensured that the expansion incorporated vegetation indigenous to the region as a setting for the experience of sculpture and the performing arts. Hundreds of trees, palmettos, and shrubs were added to the site, aligning with the historical fabric of the landscape.

The lagoon system, a central element of the sculpture garden expansion, is intended to perform vital functions for the larger park ecosystem. NOMA will maintain the health and resiliency of the landscape by employing the best water and soil management practices while also preserving the heritage live oaks and extending the adjacent live oak canopy through the garden. These state-of-the-art strategies set the bar for water-quality improvements and re-oxygenation efforts throughout the park, while serving as a prototype for similar projects.


Set within New Orleans’ historic City Park, the expansion will includes an additional six acres iof this public space – an area of land across Franklin D. Roosevelt Mall, bordered by Gulf Drive, Berky’s Circle, E. Alferez Drive, and Collins Diboll Circle, adjacent to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Additional information can be found at this link to frequently asked questions.