NEW ORLEANS, LA – In its mission to serve as a multi-faceted cultural convener arts and audiences, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) began construction on renovations to its auditorium complex in early January of 2020.
NOMA is committed to offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures. Key to NOMA’s ability to fully realize this ambition is a renovation of the museum auditorium. The auditorium complex renovation will create a flat-floored, modern space with surround sound and theatrical lighting. Flexible and contemporary, the space will serve in multiple capacities, from theater in the round to a banquet space, lecture hall, and more. The renovation will allow for seating for up to 360 people, providing NOMA with a state-of-the-art platform for interdisciplinary arts experiences. It will also connect the current auditorium more effectively with adjacent spaces.
“As New Orleans’ oldest fine arts institution, we are dedicated to inspiring the love for arts in our community,” said Susan Taylor, Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of NOMA. “A flexible, contemporary auditorium will create a space for celebration of the visual and performing arts, and allow the museum to expand our diverse offerings.”
Built in the 1970s, the existing auditorium has 220 seats, a shallow rake, no backstage, outdated technology, and a projection booth that is difficult to access. However, its position adjacent to NOMA’s Great Hall and café courtyard make it perfectly positioned to support a range of programs and events, including films, lectures, symposia, broadcast events, festivals, music, dance and other performance events and special commemorations. The auditorium complex renovation will also enable NOMA to expand the museum’s current community partnerships, as well as create opportunity for new partnerships, advancing the museum’s position as a nexus for the arts in New Orleans.
The auditorium complex renovation will also include a renovation to Café NOMA, which is operated by long-term NOMA partner Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group.
The Zemurray Foundation has generously provided the lead gift to support the auditorium complex renovation. The Zemurray Foundation’s significant contribution to this effort is the latest in a long line of generous gifts from the organization, dating back nearly 60 years. The foundation has supported everything from capital projects, to conservation and acquisition efforts, to funding curatorial positions and exhibitions. Notably, in 2017, NOMA created the Zemurray Fund for Curatorial and Scholarly Advancement, an endowment that supports research by the Doris Zemurray Stone Curatorial Fellow, and advances scholarship on topics related to NOMA’s permanent collection. The fund supports the research activity of emerging scholars and adjunct curators, with a special focus on collaborations with local and regional institutions of higher education.
Support for the atrium component of the renovation comes from Tommy and Dathel Coleman, whose gift will name the space.