Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Top choice in New Orleans

Civil War Museum & Ogden Museum of Southern Art

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The South has one of the most distinctive aesthetic cultures in the US artistic universe, a creative vision indelibly influenced by the region's complicated history and deep links to the land. Few museums explore the throughlines of Southern art like the Ogden, which boasts lovely gallery spaces, an awesome gift shop and kicking after-hours performances.

Although the Ogden Museum sits just a few steps away from the pedestal that once enshrined Robert E Lee, this vibrant collection of Southern art is not stuck in the past. It’s one of the most engaging museums in New Orleans, managing to be beautiful, educational and unpretentious all at once.

The glass-and-stone Stephen Goldring Hall, with its soaring atrium, provides an inspiring welcome to the grounds. The building, which opened in 2003, is home to the museum’s 20th- and 21st-century exhibitions as well as the Museum Store and its Center for Southern Craft & Design.

"Floating" stairs connect the different floors. Start at the top floor and work your way down to get the most out of the experience (and make it easier on your legs).

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The collection got its start more than 30 years ago when Roger Ogden and his father began purchasing art as gifts for Roger’s mother. Ogden soon became a passionate collector and by the 1990s, the New Orleans entrepreneur had assembled one of the finest collections of Southern art anywhere. Today his namesake museum and its galleries hold pieces that range from impressionist landscapes and outsider folk art to contemporary installation work. The Ogden is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, giving it access to that bottomless collection.

Nearby restaurants

Grab a beautiful tropical meal at Carmo.

For excellent cheese and sandwiches, head to St James.