Besides being famous for cuisine, jazz and festivals, New Orleans houses some of the largest collections of African-American art in the U.S. While you are in the city for the ESSENCE Festival, make sure to experience New Orleans culture at its finest.
New Orleans Museum of Art
Boasting a permanent collection of 40,000 objects, the New Orleans Museum of Art is one of the country’s largest and the city’s oldest art institutions. Specializing in French, American, African and Japanese works as well as photography and glass, the museum’s mission is to educate the New Orleans community with its rich French history and heritage. Other groups of works include paintings by Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and many others. Also visit The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which contains more than 60 sculptures nestled between footpaths, reflecting lagoons, Spanish moss-laden 200-year-old live oaks, mature pines, magnolias, camellias, and pedestrian bridges. The "Rashaad Newsome: King of Arms" exhibit will run from June 21 to September 15, and will explore the artist’s interest in ornament, systems of heraldry, and Baroque grandeur.
Visit: 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, New Orleans, LA 70124, (504) 658-4100, noma.org
Photo by NOMA.org
La Belle Galerie
One of the largest collections of African-American art in the U.S., La Belle Galerie houses a mixture of prints, mixed media, sculpture and photography from the 20th century. Limited-edition posters, ceramics and even furniture from such artists as Ernie Barnes, Charles Bibbs, and WAK depict the African-American experience in music, global, contemporary and historical themes. Located in The French Quarter, this art institution is within walking distance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the Superdome.
Visit: 309 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70130, (504) 529-3080
Photo by Flickr
The McKenna Museum
Looking to preserve the rich, historical heritage of the Black New Orleans community, The George & Leah McKenna Museum of African-American Art’s mission is to showcase all forms of fine art pertaining to people of the African Disapora found nationally as well as globally. Catering to a diverse and versatile audience, The McKenna Museum, whose works consist largely of the private collection from Dr. Dwight McKenna, includes pieces from such esteemed artists as Henry Ossawa Tanner, William Edouard Scott, Clementine Hunter as well as Ulrich Jean Pierre.
Since its inception in 1972, The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum has been providing visitors with the rich and unique history of religion, mystery, gris gris and Voodoo Queens that have long been associated with the Creole-speaking people of Louisiana. Located in The French Quarter, this boutique museum contains rare artifacts and offers spiritual services, marriage ceremonies and other rituals. Daily tours are provided and include the St. Louis Cemetery as well as The French Quarter itself.
Also known as Le Musée de F.P.C., The Free People of Color Museum is one of the only existing art institutions dedicated to preserving the culture and history of free people of color. Founded by Dr. Dwight and Beverly McKenna, the Greek Revival-style institution, contains numerous documents, photographs, lithographs and other artifacts that take you on a historical ride from the early 1700s to the Civil Rights era to present-day New Orleans. Each room of the estate boasts period-piece architecture that compliments the vibrant heritage of a group of freed Blacks and their complex, rich history.
Visit: 2336 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119, (504) 233-0384, lemuseedefpc.com
Photo by Le Musée de F.P.C.
Backstreet Cultural Museum
The Backstreet Cultural Museum is dedicated to all things New Orleans: jazz, funerals, Mardi Gras Indians, and second line parades as well as social aid and pleasure clubs. Its goal is to present materials, whether artifacts, photography or video, that aim to promote and introduce new audiences to the richness of the African-American heritage and traditions present in Louisiana.
Visit: 1116 Henriette Delille Street, New Orleans, LA 70116, (504) 522-4806, backstreemuseum.org
Photo by Backstreet Cultural Museum
The National WWII Museum
Opened as The National D-Day Museum in 2000, The National WWII Museum was founded by historian and author Stephen Ambrose and gives a detailed account about one of the most complex wars in world history. In 2003, Congress changed its name officially and with that name made it possible for the institution to create the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion as well as a 4-D movie theater. Once you have examined all the military memorabilia, stop by the American Sector restaurant and Soda Shop to experience a fabulous dining experience led by Chef John Besh.