NEW ORLEANS (press release) – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) a $1,000,000 grant to support the planning and staffing of a new conservation initiative. The funds awarded by The Mellon Foundation will support the establishment of a conservation center at NOMA, and create two new museum positions in the areas of object conservation including outdoor sculpture, and photography conservation. These areas of focus align with NOMA’s new milestones and historic strengths – the recent 6.5 acre expansion of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, and the ongoing commitment of NOMA as a center for the study for photography.
“We are grateful to the Trustees of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their extraordinary generosity,” said Susan Taylor, Director of NOMA. “Conservation of the works in our care is essential to NOMA’s mission, and the establishment of a conservation program will allow us to serve as a center for research and programs that contributes significantly to the arts and culture of the Gulf South.”
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is consistently listed among the top sculpture gardens in the world. Originally opened in 2003 as a five-acre site with 44 sculptures (by 2017, this number had grown to 66), in 2019, the garden expanded by 6 ½ acres, with 26 additional works. Now home to over 90 works of art by 19th-, 20th-, and 21st- century artists, the Sydney and
Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is also the site of a sculpture pavilion that offers exhibition space for indoor sculpture and other works from NOMA’s collection that complement the garden’s installations. The Besthoff Sculpture Garden is free and open to the public seven days a week and fulfills NOMA’s mission of sharing significant art and artists with the broadest possible audience.
NOMA’s comprehensive photography collection of more than 14,000 works includes some of the rarest examples and most significant achievements in photography from the 1840s to the present. Highlights of NOMA’s collection include European and American modernist photographs by photographers such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Alfred Stieglitz and Ilse Bing, individual examples of Chinese and Japanese historic and contemporary photographs, including the works of Wang Qingsong and Kusakabe Kimbei, and larger groups of works by African-American photographers, including Gordon Parks and L. Kasimu Harris, and African photographers, such as Malik Sidibe. Funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant will support the establishment of the only photography conservation program for much of the Southeastern United States. This expanded department at NOMA will provide support and guidance to a broad geographic area while also offering opportunities to develop and present new conservation research in the field.