New Orleans Museum of Art Besthoff Sculpture Garden

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Situated within historic City Park in New Orleans, NOMA’s expanded sculpture garden establishes continuity with adjacent conditions to reflect the picturesque character of the lagoon system and plantings that evoke Louisiana’s riparian and coastal landscapes.

Reed Hilderbrand worked with the collectors, museum staff, artists, and architect Lee Ledbetter to create a contemporary sculpture garden rooted in the New Orleans riparian landscape. Works are arranged in the open lawn, under tree canopies, across open water, on cypress islands, and within understory planting, all connected by pedestrian bridges designed to complement the landscape. The new garden connects to the existing Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden by a “canal walk”. Three hundred feet in length, this structure dips into the lagoon, taking visitors down to the waterline and creating the unique experience of walking through water. The garden comprises 26 new works of sculptures. Two of these are site-specific and commissioned for the garden: Elyn Zimmerman’s Glass Bridge and Teresita Fernández’s tile mosaic wall.

Manipulation of the existing waterbody enhances spatial experience and accommodates innovative water management strategies, including daylighting of stormwater flows to the lagoon system and treatment of roadway runoff through infiltration gardens. The planting strategy evokes the ecotypes of the region, controls views, creates spaces, and provides continuity to adjacent park.

The expansion also offers the opportunity to expand museum programming. To accommodate this growth, the sculpture garden integrates an amphitheater and stage for musical, theatrical, and cultural programming, as well as a sculpture pavilion. The pavilion, by Lee Ledbetter, serves as a complement to the garden’s installations and as an interior exhibition space overlooking the lagoon.


New Orleans, Louisiana




6.5 acres




  • NOMA sculpture garden extension features outdoor theatre and submerged walkway, DEZEEN, July 2019
  • Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art | The Architect’s Newspaper | October/November 2019
  • 2021 Design Merit Award, Boston Society of Landscape Architects
  • “New Orleans Museum of Art Unveils 6.5-Acre Sculpture Garden Expansion,” Metropolis
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