Arts & Culture in Greater New Orleans
New Orleans has long attracted visitors from around the world to experience its unique history, music, food, and culture. With more to offer than ever before, it’s easy to immerse yourself and find something new every weekend.
There are more than 45 museums throughout the city to choose from – and another 34 throughout the region. One of the crown-jewels is The National World War II Museum, which is consistently ranked one of the best museums in the world and honors the legacy of Andrew Higgins, the New Orleans-based manufacturer of the Higgins boats used on D-Day.
Moreover, New Orleans is home to unique and historic architecture influenced by the many cultures that settled in the area centuries ago. Today, you can find the various styles of architecture in neighborhoods around the city, with several preservation groups charged with ensuring that home and building styles reflect the region’s roots.
New Orleans is the place for works of art from today and yesterday
In the Warehouse District, you will find the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), as well as galleries galore. Julia Street is a top destination for regional and national artists and is the setting for the annual White Linen Night in August, when locals dressed in white linen enjoy local art and live music.
In true New Orleans fashion, cheeky locals also hold the satirical Dirty Linen Night one week later on Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter. Royal Street is home to dozens of galleries, including the art studio of the late George Rodrigue, a Louisiana native and creator of the famous “blue dog” paintings.
Both Magazine Street and Julia Street are home to Art for Art’s Sake, the beloved annual October art walk — known as the official kick-off to the Arts Season in New Orleans — featuring live music, pop ups, food, and plenty of drinks.
Truly, inspiring and unique artwork is prevalent throughout the region. Sculptures and murals commissioned by Art Council New Orleans are displayed throughout the city. In neighboring Jefferson Parish, impressive art installations can be seen along Veterans Memorial Boulevard. The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park has a wonderful fine art collection and regularly hosts national and international traveling exhibits. It also features an incredible, recently expanded outdoor Sculpture Garden, which is free year-round. The McKenna Museum of African Art is a boutique-style museum celebrating the visual aesthetic of people of African descent in North America and beyond.
Spanish, French, Greek Revival, even Craftsman – Greater New Orleans has it all
Recognizable around the world, the historic French Quarter is largely Spanish influenced with stucco buildings and beautiful wrought-iron balconies. The nearby Marigny/Bywater neighborhood features shotgun homes and Creole cottages, many restored to their original Caribbean-inspired colors. Upriver, you’ll find Greek Revival and Victorian homes dating from the 1800s.
In suburban and rural communities throughout the region, you’ll find an even greater variety. Residential areas near the city center offer inviting homes built in the twentieth century. As you move further away from downtown, you’ll find a charming mix of both old and new architectural styles to suit every taste. Acres of available land make the region an exceptional place to build your dream home as well.
Along River Road outside of New Orleans, you will find many plantations offering guided tours focused on architecture, craftsmanship, and history. Whitney Plantation, the only museum in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on the lives of enslaved people, is a powerful must-visit.
Opera, ballet, musicals, and plays throughout the region
Theater is alive and well in New Orleans. The region boasts multiple stages from the modern Mahalia Jackson to the classic Saenger Theatre. Local and touring plays and musicals run throughout the year, including Broadway shows.
Smaller neighborhood venues offer intimate and avant-garde performances while children’s theaters give budding thespians a nurturing place to learn their craft. The Jefferson Performing Arts Society hosts more than 150 annual performances, and is local theater at its best. On the Northshore, the North Star Theater, Little Slidell Theater, and The Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts stage productions. In the city, Southern Rep, Le Petite Theatre, Anthony Bean Community Theater, The NOLA Project, and others offer a very full performance calendar for avid theater goers.
Known as America’s First City of Opera, the New Orleans Opera and Opera Creole keep the tradition going strong. The New Orleans Ballet Association, New Orleans Ballet Theatre, and Marigny Opera Ballet hold performances, and host traveling companies, throughout the year. The renowned Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra performs throughout the Gulf South, ranging from the traditional to eclectic (think classically-trained orchestra plus the all-male Mardi Gras dancing krewe 610 Stompers … only in New Orleans!) The New Orleans Concert Band, and dozens of ensembles and solo artists, offer a wealth of performances to enjoy classical music throughout the year.