It's been a long time coming. Centuries in the making, a decade in planning but it's finally here. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is opening to the public the most significant collection of Southern art. Works come from across the South from its earliest artists to its top contemporary ones.
"With the opening of the Ogden Museum, we have a place to study the distinct flavor and soul of Southern works and trace its legacy, exploring the visual influence of the South on American culture," says Director Richard Gruber.
Backed up to Lee Circle, Ogden is anchoring a growing museum district, which already includes the Contemporary Arts Center and the National D-Day Musuem. The Ogden is the first Louisiana museum to be affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.Ogden will open in three phases. The Stephen Goldring Hall, the complex's central building, opens August 23rd with a survey of different periods, regions and mediums. Representative pieces include Southern landscapes, bohemian New Orleans, self-taught artists, modernism in the South, contemporary movements from Florida and Texas reflecting the changing South, photography spanning a century, and Southern crafts in wood, clay, metal and glass. Artists include E.J. Bellocq, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Christenberry, Walker Evans, Clementine Hunter and Eudora Welty. The Patrick F. Taylor Library and Clementine Hunter Wing will open in 2004.
The Ogden Museum was created out of the personal collection of local philanthropist Roger Ogden. He started to develop the idea of a museum in partnership with the University of New Orleans in 1994. As the project shaped up, shows drawn from the Ogden collection were mounted. In 1999, a preview gallery opened in the district while construction was completed on the permanent 67,000 square foot space. The collections include more than 2,750 pieces from Washington D.C. and the 15 Southern states, spanning the 18th through 21st centuries.
The mission of the museum is to collect, present and examine the finest in Southern art. Shows will address critical themes in Southern art and how they reflect the region's history and culture. Education initiatives will be a major component of the Ogden's mission.