The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art

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New Orleans, LA
United States
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art

Landscape Information

Occupying approximately five acres of New Orleans City Park to the west of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the garden opened in 2003 as a result of the Besthoffs' desire to display their collection of large-scale sculptures within a space evocative of Louisiana’s unique landscape. Landscape architect Brian Sawyer of Sawyer | Berson created a design which enhances the “intrinsic beauty” of the site while maintaining the existing lagoon and mature pine and live oak stands. The presence of two entryway axes on opposite ends of the site display intended formality. A pair of cast stone and bronze pavilions designed by architect Lee Ledbetter flank the main entry axis. Within, the garden is divided into three distinct zones. From the entry plaza, a series of limestone steps descend to the elliptical Pine Grove, where many of the collection’s late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century pieces are on display. Opposite, curvilinear paths extend further into the park, piercing through shrubbery to reveal views of sculpture and the second defined zone, a bisected lagoon. Three bridges crossing the City Park Lagoon, along with the Cascade Pool (with stepping stone path and waterfall), offer vantage points from which to view sculpture in interplay with the water. Beyond the Lagoon, the Oak Grove is the majestic setting for many of the collection’s contemporary works, as well as those of largest scale. The collection follows certain themes, including the display of works by French, British, Italian, Japanese, Israeli, and American artists, as well as works expressing human figuration, geometric abstraction, Surrealism, and Pop Art. The sculpture garden, which opened with 50 sculptures (41 donated by the Besthoff Foundation and nine works from the museum’s permanent collection), now has over 60 pieces on display.