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NEW ORLEANS—Finally out of our houses, vaccinated, maskless, and into the fun of summer, there’s plenty to talk about in New Orleans. Nothing creates dialogue quite as well as the stimulating settings of art museums.

Jessie Haynes is the Managing Director for the Helis Foundation. She is elated to invite residents back to five museum locations in New Orleans, for free admission on certain days, as part of “Art for All.”

Art for All was created to promote access to art, regardless of a family’s financial situation. Post pandemic, Art for All is timely, with graduations over, tourism in the city increasing, and children out of school.

The majority of the cultural centers and museums are wide open past pandemic shutdowns and Haynes says,  “this is a wonderful time to reemerge back into society.  Seeing art and engaging with other people in the community and having the opportunity to leave your house and see some of the ongoing exhibitions that have been going on since last year. We have been doing this for quite some time since the early 1990s at NOMA.  Since then, we now offer it at five institutions across the city.”

The Contemporary Arts Center is free on Sundays. NOMA and the Botanical Gardens at City Park is free Wednesday. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is free Thursday. The Louisiana Children’s Museum is free on the second Sunday of every month.

The Pandemic was hard on much of the tourism, culture, and museums. Some did not make it through or had to make hard decisions to end exhibitions or send people home. It’s a reminder of how important art is in the city of New Orleans and how easy it is to lose. It’s now the opportunity to support it once again.

Art for all has a dual benefit of families gaining access and institutions regaining patronage. The result currently, is that attendance is picking up and the staff is returning, which equates to a return to the enjoyment of art.

“They need traffic! It’s important to have people back in these places.  The reasons they exist is to provide these opportunities to our community and create space for dialogue and finally, that’s back again,” says Haynes.

In addition to Art for All, the Helis Foundation is promoting “Unframed,” a mural project initiative that allowed for seven murals to be painted in downtown New Orleans. Also, their Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition runs along the entire length of Poydras and is viewable from the sidewalk.