The mission of the New Orleans Museum of Art, to create a vibrant center for the arts, underscores NOMA’s commitment to sharing its resources with the broadest possible public.
As a teaching and learning institution, NOMA is dedicated to the arts and the communities it serves. Over the last year I have had the privilege of serving as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), an opportunity to think more broadly about art museums and their communities within the framework of the organization. Its 237 members from North American institutions fulfill missions of education and outreach. In January, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, spoke to the organization. The topic of his speech, “Open and Free: On Arts, Democracy and Inequality” is a powerful call to action that inspires institutions—large and small—to consider the role of the arts as a tool for social and cultural transformation. I hope you will take the time to read his remarks that can be found on the AAMD and Ford Foundation websites.
In a city like New Orleans, where there are many challenges and many needs, the arts are celebrated and affirmed; yet there is always an opportunity to do more. This season our staff has been more dedicated than ever, presenting powerful exhibitions and dynamic programs for our diverse community.
In this issue, you’ll read a conversation between the RosaMary Curator for Decorative Arts and Design Mel Buchanan, and conservator Howard Sutcliffe, regarding the conservation process of the Butler-Greenwood Plantation parlor acquired by NOMA last spring. The parlor will be featured in the upcoming exhibition Louisiana Parlor: Antebellum Taste & Context.
A more recent chapter of Louisiana history is a focus of our second summer exhibition. Featuring the work of six contemporary artists, Ten Years Gone explores their respective approaches to the passage of time, memory, and in the process, contextualizes the significance of the decade that has passed since Hurricane Katrina.
This issue also contains the most recent assessment of our Mini Masters early learning program for three- and four-year-olds. The results are significant—integrating visual arts into children’s lives at an early age makes a profound difference in their critical thinking skills and their readiness for school. At a time where data-driven research is a critical assessment, this program offers an inspiring example of art’s impact on society’s youngest members. This is why we open our doors to opportunities that can enrich the entire community.
NOMA now offers free admission for all teenagers, thanks to the Helis Foundation. This annual teen pass is available at the museum’s front desk. We hope that, by opening our doors wider, more teenagers will experience NOMA on their terms.
Finally, this month kicks off a new venture for NOMA’s annual Odyssey Ball, presented by IBERIABANK. This year, Odyssey Chairs Robin Burgess and Terence Blanchard have created a schedule of events that support museum programs and initiatives. A jazz brunch and second line parade in April will launch this yearlong odyssey, with performances by Grammy Award winners Terence Blanchard and Poncho Sanchez. Timed to coincide with International Jazz Day, this event celebrates art and music, and welcomes spring and the festival season in New Orleans. I hope to see you there and throughout the spring season.
Susan M. Taylor
The Montine McDaniel Freeman Director