No, thanks

Get the LOCAL Perspective!

Find hidden gems and get insider information on NOLA’s best restaurants, bars, attractions, and events every week.

A Single Sculpture Multiplied Into Sixty

The enormous beads hang from live oaks, snagged like a Mardi Gras parade of giants might have left them. Nearby, bronze cellos rise from a lagoon. Across the way, a larger-than-life spider rears back, poised for action.

This is not a Tim Burton movie set. It’s a world-renowned sculpture garden, part of the New Orleans Museum of Art, tucked into City Park.

A gallon of gas and a dozen eggs cost about the same the year Sydney Besthoff III, then CEO of K&B, a beloved New Orleans drugstore chain, purchased a downtown office building to serve as corporate headquarters. With the building came a granite fountain by Isamu Noguchi, The Mississippi, 1961-62, that didn’t work. In researching what would be involved in the fountain’s repair, Besthoff, along with his wife Walda, developed a deep love for the mechanics of sculpture. They learned everything they could and began to collect.

Fast-forward forty-five years and you can see their passion for sculpture in the five acres of Louisiana landscape intermingling with fine art at the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Forty-one of the 64 sculptures are gifts from their collection. Many of the works and artists on display in the Garden come from the South or deal with Southern themes (like Katrina). All of it is free.

By design, there’s no “right” way to walk the Garden. This is New Orleans, after all, and there’s no one way to do anything. With multiple entrances, a visitor can meander paths and bridges in whatever direction they like knowing they’ll eventually loop around.

The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden within City Park (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Throughout the year, the Garden is home to staged plays, yoga classes, even weddings and memorials. It also hosts NOMA’s annual fundraiser, LOVE in the Garden presented by Hancock Whitney, every September. This year, in honor of the city’s Tricentennial, the Garden is undergoing a six-acre expansion that will include sculptures by 21st century artists and an outdoor amphitheater and stage, among other things.

The Garden, like the city, is changing yet staying the same, intermingling what’s always been with something new and offering more than one take on what first meets the eye.

Visit New Orleans and start your story with #OneTimeInNOLA.

Book Your Trip