A riot of color, music, and movement, New Orleans has inspired countless artists, from colonial architects and impressionist painters to mask makers and jazz musicians. Whether you’re in the mood for highbrow or carnivalesque, here are the top stops for an artsy exploration of the city.
French impressionist Edgar Degas spent a few inspiring months at this columned mansion on Esplanade Avenue, taking images of 19th-century New Orleans back to Europe and reigniting his career. Join a tour to hear the stories behind some of Degas’ most admired works and see the cramped garret room where he painted them.
Longue Vue House and Gardens
The European-style gardens at this National Historic Landmark in New Orleans’ Lakeview neighborhood are a work of art themselves. Beyond the manicured shrubs and blooming fountains, the Longue Vue House is home to an impressive modern and op art collection featuring works by Kandinsky, Picasso, and Vasarely, plus rotating special exhibits.
New Orleans Museum of Art
If you need a break from the humidity and heat, duck into the air-conditioned galleries of NOMA, one of the top fine-arts museums in the American South. Browse the impressive French, Japanese, and African collections, or take a stroll beneath live oaks in the lakeside sculpture garden.
Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World
No matter when you visit New Orleans, you can see the colorful artistry of the city’s biggest party up close at this Mardi Gras museum and workshop. See extravagant costumes and watch craftspeople at work creating huge, papier-mâché floats and props for the next carnival parades.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
While a graveyard might not be the first place you’d look for great art, this legendary New Orleans “City of the Dead” is one of the best places to admire the city’s unique above-ground burial style. Ornate tombs, family crypts, and carved stone memorials offer a fascinating glimpse of funerary art throughout the centuries (it’s been around since 1789).
Often called the “Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road,” this historic plantation west of New Orleans is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the state. Inside the antebellum mansion, well-restored finishes include an oversize sugar cane mural typical of the era.