At its inception, NOMA was viewed as “a place where primary emphasis was on education, moral uplift, and social betterment,” in the words of founding board member and renowned artist Ellsworth Woodward. Before the cornerstone was laid in 1910, funds for the building’s construction had been donated by philanthropist Isaac Delgado, for whom the original museum was named. This seed money of $150,000 served as inspiration for the hundreds of donors who have followed in his lead. A few of our 2018 benefactors shared their reasons for giving:
Mini Masters is a collaborative arts integration program for pre-kindergarten students featuring works of art from NOMA. The program introduces these students to visual arts, while training educators to use works of art as tools for teaching literacy, arts, science, and math concepts. Board member David Kelso and his wife, Sara, believe in the fundamental importance of an early arts education for children, which led them to establishing the David and Sara Kelso Endowment for Early Childhood Arts Education.
“When I was in grade school in Virginia, our class took field trips to the National Gallery in Washington, and I always looked forward to that,” says David, managing director of a financial services company.
Mini Masters and other education initiatives at the museum are designed to fill in the gaps created by the lack of arts experiences for children and families through a variety of activities that reinforce education concepts, from art activities that enable students to better understand elements of nature, like seasons, to gallery visits at the museum. The students develop cognitive connections that have a long-term impact on further progress in school, relationships, and society as a whole.
David sees this as the critical importance of Mini Masters: “Some may see programs like this as the softer side of life, but I consider it an integral part of how people can and should be viewing the world around them.”
In 2003, NOMA inaugurated the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. The nearly five-acre site, lush with towering pine trees and moss-draped live oaks—some more than 200 years old—surrounding a tranquil lagoon, was transformed into a breathtaking outdoor art space graced with works by internationally renowned sculptors. The garden now ranks among the best in the world, which has led to a major expansion with a lead gift from its namesakes.
Many individual and corporate donors have committed funds toward this development of six adjoining acres. NOMA’s Young Fellows, a group of professionals under age 40 who share an interest in art, raised funds for the installation of a Meditation Path that will meander through the natural splendor of the garden, connecting works by major twenty-first-century artists. Among those supporting the project are new Young Fellows members Mary and Ryan Peters.
“Philanthropy, at times, feels out of reach to many who are willing to support a cause,” says Mary, who works in institutional advancement at a private school. “Young Fellows has been a great initiative because it allows us to root our philanthropic goals within our means and within an institution that continually strives to make the city a better place through shared experiences in art.”
Ryan, who works in human resources for the hospitality industry, concurs. “It’s one thing to be able to go to events around the city,” he says, “but it’s another to support and connect with an organization that strives to maintain and promote an important cultural tenet of New Orleans, which is diversity of expression and thought through art. Being a part of the Young Fellows provides that deep and meaningful connection to the unique threads that comprise the fabric of our city.”
In December 2018 Angelique, a captivating work of art with a curious connection to New Orleans, was acquired and installed in NOMA’s Bea and Harold Forgotston Gallery. This dramatic painting enhances the museum’s presentation of European and American art from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The artist, Léopold Burthe, was a New Orleanian who spent his adult life in Paris. In the spring of 2017, Vanessa Schmid, NOMA’s Senior Research Curator for European Art, was informed of this historical work by peers who had seen the painting at the TEFAF Maastricht art fair in The Netherlands.
“With the heating up of the art market, it’s increasingly difficult for museums to compete and purchase works of art to keep them in the public trust,” Schmid said. “Once masterpieces go into private hands, it’s unpredictable as to whether they will be preserved, let alone ever seen again by a wider public and scholars.”
With that in mind, she contacted Michael and Susie McLoughlin to discuss its purchase for NOMA.
Michael, a businessman who owns a metal fabricating company in Michigan, grew up a block from City Park, and he and his wife maintain close ties to the city. They return frequently and often visit NOMA; in fact, the couple are supporters of The Orléans Collection exhibition.
“Susie and I have long enjoyed both collecting art and sharing it with others,” says Michael. Some of the McLoughlins’ pieces have been loaned to such institutions as the Cabildo, the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Flagler Museum. In addition, their generosity led to the purchase of a sculpture for City Park.
“When Vanessa approached us about potentially acquiring Angelique for NOMA, it was the perfect storm. Our love of art and our love of the city intersected, and we were happy to oblige.”
NOMA relies upon the support of donors. If you find these stories inspiring and would like to make an impact yourself, please contact the museum for more information.
Anne P. Baños, Deputy Director | firstname.lastname@example.org | 504.658.4129
Jenni Daniel, Director of Development | email@example.com | 504.658.4107