New Orleans has long been a favorite with American as well as world travelers. For decades, people have come from far and wide to uncover the charms of this most intriguing of US cities. Attractions in New Orleans certainly abound: the enduring allure of voodoo, the Creole beauty of the Vieux Carré (French Quarter), the stately elegance of the Garden District and the historic pull of the Mississippi River Road plantations.
And like any culturally vibrant city, New Orleans also offers a distinctive art scene. Esteemed art galleries dot the scenic streets of the Vieux Carré, as they do the wider roads of the Warehouse Arts District. But the city’s most breathtaking artistic attraction is the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden.
A 20-minute drive from the Vieux Carré, the 4,000-square-meter Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which opened in 2003, is adjacent to the museum and set within lush City Park. A reconfigured lagoon splits the garden in two halves: the pine and magnolia grove right next to the museum and a sprawling area of 200-year-old live oaks covered in mystical moss.
In this grand setting, visitors are encouraged to discover 65 sculptures by the likes of Henry Moore, Anish Kapoor, Fernando Botero, Gaston Lachaise, Masayuki Nagare, George Segal, Joel Shapiro and many more.
The sculptures – most of which are monumental – are set in various places around the garden, and they include “Karma” a stainless steel sculpture by Korean artist Do Ho Suh that depicts a male figure soaring seven meters into the sky like an otherworldly silver column. There’s also “Caduto a Ragione (Fallen to the Ground),” a bronze figure constantly being pecked by a flock of birds, created by Italian artist Mimmo Paladino, and “Wind Sculpture V,” by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, resembling an African batik rippled by gusts of wind.
Thanks to clever landscaping, tree-shaded areas and an abundance of benches, the garden invites long strolls and even longer stays, as most visitors find it nearly impossible to tear themselves away from the grandiose artworks and captivating natural scenery.
The New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden is open daily and accessible for free.