Buried in the Deep South, New Orleans is a dynamic tapestry of street parties, vibrant culture, beautiful architecture and rich history. After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the contemporary art scene has rebounded to new stratospheric heights. Wonder from one door to the next along Julia Street, where a new generation of artists are filling the trendy spaces. Here, we take a look at some of the best contemporary galleries in the Big Easy.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
If you walk for about 20 minutes from the edge of the famous French Quarter, you’ll come to Julia Street – a road where artists have displayed artwork for decades. Here, you’ll find the Ariodante Gallery, a small space brimming with character among its suave neighbors. It’s the perfect spot to pick up jewelry, glassworks, ceramics and fine art by local and regional artists. Think vibrant ceramic trinkets and mesmerizing landscape paintings.
Arthur Roger Gallery
Arthur Roger set up his gallery in 1978 and it has since become a relevant and influential establishment in New Orleans’ contemporary art scene. Celebrated art has hung on its walls, from David Hockney and Hans Hoffman to Dale Chihuly and Ida Kohlmeyer. In 1988, the gallery relocated to the current Julia Street space designed by urban designer Wellington Reiter – a must-visit culture hub for contemporary art lovers.
Callan Contemporary stands out for its abstract and figurative paintings and sculptures. This Julia Street gallery is a well-lit space with a sophisticated atmosphere. You can drift through the open white rooms admiring a mixture of unexpected mediums, textures and colors. The gallery showcases works like Bertrand Flachot’s mystical tree and book creations, Mitchell Lonas’ aluminum paintings of the natural world and Eva Hild’s swirling coral-like structures. Ask the friendly staff about any works which catch your eye.
Gryder describes itself as a platform for artists to express diverse perspectives and experimental discourses. The venue showcases divergent exhibitions which aim to highlight the intellectual and transcendent role of art as well as its preservation. You’ll be drawn in by works like Jan Gilbert’s panels of spooky figures, Dapper Bruce Lafitte’s dynamic scenes of New Orleans or Babette Beaullieu’s intricate structures made from branches. If you’re interested in progressive and subversive pieces, Gryder is a fascinating space to spend a couple of hours.
Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
Established in 1998 by local artist and activist Jonathan Ferrara, this gallery showcases avant-garde painting, sculpture, installation and mixed media-based artworks by artists like David Buckingham and Krista Jurisich. From steel-line sculpture to cartoon art, the venue seeks to give a voice to emerging international artists in its trendy open gallery space. If you go in Autumn, the gallery also hosts the annual No Dead Artists International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Art, which platforms exciting new US talent.
Since 1983, LeMieux Galleries has been showcasing artists from the Southern US. It’s a mix of pop-surrealist narratives, vibrant colors and remarkable Louisiana landscapes from painters like Thomas Deaton, Kate Samworth and Billy Solitario. Here, you’ll find artwork which captures the rich atmospheres of New Orleans to take home with you. But if you’re not looking to buy, it’s still worth investing an hour or two to see some of the Southern visual culture on display. The gallery also offers expert framing services.
M Contemporary is located in a picturesque red-brick townhouse, known as The Thirteen Sisters, built on Julia Street in the 1830s. Inside the windows are lined with pretty green shutters, while the artworks on show are as mesmerizing as the building itself. The gallery is a curation of both emerging and established artists from across the US, united by their use of rich complex color and distinctive points of view. The tribal sculptures and African masks are particularly striking.
Martine Chaisson Gallery
Martine Chaisson’s collections of wildly diverse contemporary pieces hang on the walls of opulent high-ceilinged rooms, complete with marble floors and chandeliers. The gallery is located on Camp Street, adjacent to Julia Street in the Warehouse District. You’ll marvel at the big statement artworks, drawings, photographs and sculptures which make a striking contrast to the grand rooms. Martine curates works from both emerging and established artists like Marjorie Pierson’s abstract Louisiana landscapes or Donald Martiny’s giant brushstroke paintings.
Octavia Art Gallery
The Octavia Art Gallery focuses on artists whose work is informed by distinct cultural heritage but also vast global perspectives. The staggeringly dynamic paintings pop out from the big white walls as you wander through the brightly lit space on Magazine Street, just off Julia Street. At Octavia Art Gallery, you might catch the exquisite wildlife photography of Joe Zammit-Lucia and the sombre industrial landscapes of Errol Barron. If you want some advice on what to purchase, the gallery also offers expert consulting for private, corporate or public spaces.
Spillman | Blackwell
Spillman | Blackwell is an exciting new venue on the block – located on Camp Street in the Warehouse District. Recently conceived by longtime best friends Leslie-Claire Spillman and Amy Blackwell, the gallery showcases a diverse roster of artists who work with a variety of media and processes. Bold surrealist canvases from artists like Ed Smith hang side by side with the abstract creations of Melissa Herington and realist photographs of Spillman herself. If you have a smaller budget, the works also come at reasonable prices and the gallery offers a consultancy service if you want some expert input.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Helen Armitage.
Why not make a weekend of it? Book a stay with Culture Trip at one of these quirky boutique hotels in the French Quarter or stick to a tighter budget at one of these budget hotels and hostels in Mid-City. There’s plenty to keep you busy too, from ticking the best things to do in New Orleans off your bucket list to eating fresh and delicious seafood at these top restaurants or trying local specialties such as a po’ boy at these top spots.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.