New Orleans is rich with art—but you don’t need to be rich to experience the full beauty of our local art scene. From public art and street murals to galleries and warehouses, there’s bound to be something that appeals to everyone’s style. The art scene is ever-changing, making for an exciting adventure no matter when you visit. Here are the best ways to experience NOLA’s art scene.
See the murals and street art
The city has a wealth of public art. Murals can be found all throughout the city, taking shape on the sides of buildings, on street corners and beneath highways. Visit Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard to catch a glimpse of local legends Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson painted on the side of Ashé Cultural Arts Center. You can find one Banksy at the corner of Kerlerec and North Rampart streets, and another in the lobby of the International House hotel. Learn more about public art in the city here, and check out the NOLA Mural Project’s interactive online mural map.
Browse the galleries in the Arts District and Magazine Street
Head to Julia Street in the Arts District, plus nearby Magazine Street for an array of galleries filled with fine art. The Arts District also hosts an art walk on the first Saturday of every month, where galleries open their doors to patrons (galleries are also available by appointment throughout the week). Whitney White Linen Night is held throughout downtown in August, where galleries open their doors in the style of a massive block party, featuring live music, food and drinks.
Check out the French Market and Jackson Square
Visit the French Market and browse a variety of goods from artists. You never know what you’ll find: jewelry, paintings, ceramics, metal work and other artwork are for sale from the artists themselves. The Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-Op is also a must for New Orleans art. Visit nearby Jackson Square for works from even more artists—you can even get your portrait drawn against the iconic backdrop of St. Louis Cathedral.
Stop into shops on Royal Street
A little further into the French Quarter you’ll find Royal Street, known for its antique shops and art galleries. Wander into The Rodrigue Studio for art featuring George Rodrigue’s iconic “blue dog,” or Fifi Mahony’s for the perfect wig to complete your ensemble. Royal Street is a gem of a place to find your next piece of artwork.
Head to the Bywater for Dr. Bob and Studio BE
The Bywater, located right outside of the French Quarter, is filled with street art, including murals, and lots of art shops. You must stop by Dr. Bob’s Folk Art for a souvenir. Dr. Bob is known for taking everyday objects and transforming them into art, and his phrase “Be Nice or Leave” is a common theme in his work. Also in the Bywater, Studio BE is the brainchild of local artist Brandan “B-mike” Odums. The visual art housed in this 35,000 sq. ft. warehouse depicts the stories of revolutionaries, heroes and everyday New Orleanians, often featuring the artwork of B-mike himself and the youth he works with.
Visit an art museum
Looking to be inspired by Southern Art? Want to see the latest exhibit traveling the U.S.? New Orleans is home to many art museums that offer a wide array of collections. The Contemporary Arts Center, McKenna Museum of African American Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, Besthoff Sculpture Garden and Ogden Museum of Southern Art are just a few we recommend visiting.
Stay tuned for Prospect.5, the art triennial
Prospect New Orleans is a citywide contemporary art triennial that will return for its fifth installation October 23, 2021, to January 23, 2022. Prospect.5 - Yesterday we said tomorrow will feature an intergenerational group of artists from across the globe and will include both existing and newly commissioned projects. During the triennial, visit museums, cultural spaces and public sites throughout New Orleans to catch a glimpse of the exhibition.