New Orleans: New Attractions

New Orleans is adding to its already diverse collection of attractions with new museums, exhibits, casinos, theme parks and gardens. The new attractions alone would be enough to fill most tour itineraries. Following is a sampling:

  • The Ogden Museum of Southern Art will be a one-of-a-kind museum when it opens next year. The facility will tell the story of the visual arts in the American South, showcasing the best of the past, present and future in Southern culture.
  • A $13.5 million development, the Ogden will be located at Lee Circle, a historic city district where several buildings are being restored to serve as the University of New Orleans' Lee Circle Center for the Arts. The cornerstone of the Ogden's collection is about 600 works from 15 Southern states donated by Roger Ogden, a New Orleans real estate dealer and art collector. The collection includes 19th- and 20th-century paintings, watercolors, prints, ceramics, sculpture and photographs.

    Last December the museum received its first gift -- 378 works by Will Henry Stevens, a professor at Newcomb Art School from 1921 to 1948 and one of New Orleans' modern art pioneers. The artist's daughter, Janet Stevens McDowell, donated the $3.7 million collection, which includes charcoal drawings, paintings, pastels and watercolors. Call (504) 539-6900.

  • Evergreen Plantation, the largest intact antebellum plantation in the South, has been opened to the public through New Orleans Tours. Located on 2,268 acres on River Road in St. John the Baptist Parish, the plantation house is a Greek Revival structure dating to 1790. It includes a double row of 22 slave cabins.
  • Guided tours are offered daily Tuesdays through Saturdays. A full-day excursion leaves New Orleans at 9:30 a.m. and arrives at Evergreen for a morning tour. Before continuing to Laura Plantation, another historic area estate, lunch is available at a nearby Cajun restaurant. The tour returns to New Orleans by about 4:30 p.m. A half-day trip leaves at 1:30 p.m., visits Evergreen and arrives back in the city at about 4:30 p.m. The full-day tour is priced at $48 for adults and $24 for children. The half-day program costs $36 for adults and $18 for children. Call (504) 592-0560.

  • Harrah's New Orleans Casino is slated to open next fall between Canal Street and Poydras Street on the Mississippi River in the heart of the tourism and convention district. The $119 million facility will feature 120 table games and 2,900 slot machines as well as a 250-seat buffet restaurant.
  • The casino will have five separate themed sections or "courts." The Court of Good Fortune will be a VIP players' area. The Jazz Court, the casino's grand foyer, will feature 55-foot ceilings and an artificial live oak tree more than five stories high with limbs spanning 50 feet over the casino.

    The Smugglers Court, one of the casino's main attractions, will house a 30-foot-long animated pirate ship on a fantasy-like shipwreck scene with "real" pirates. The Mardi Gras Court will feature three 30-foot-long Mardi Gras floats plus French Quarter building facades. The Court of the Mansion, the facility's nongaming area, will include a New Orleans mansion facade and a 10,000-square-foot ballroom. Call (504) 533-6000.

  • The National D-Day Museum is slated to open next spring. The country's first museum dedicated to the Allied invasion of Normandy in World War II, the facility will be located at Magazine and Howard streets in the Warehouse District. Exhibits will tell the story of American amphibious operations around the world during World War II, with emphasis on the Normandy landings. Period film footage, uniforms, maps and documents, weapons, artifacts, photos and military equipment will be featured. Call (504) 527-6012.
  • Jazzland, a 140-acre theme park, is expected to open by next year. Located about 12 miles from downtown New Orleans, the park will offer entertainment, regional food, a variety of music, a lawn amphitheater, games and more than 25 rides.
  • The Great Lawn will feature outdoor concerts, while the Jazz Plaza will take visitors back to old New Orleans with the Jazz Hall's shows and cuisine. The Pontchartrain Beach area will re-create an amusement park with rides, shops and waterskiing shows. There will also be a Children's Area and a nightly Mardi Gras parade. Call (504) 586-8305.

  • ArtWorks, scheduled to open next year in the Warehouse Arts District, will be a new home for Louisiana visual artists and a showcase for the Louisiana Artists Guild. It will also offer a range of educational programs. Call (504) 523-1465.
  • The Longue Vue House and Gardens has opened the new Lucy C. Roussel Discovery Garden, an interactive facility for children. Elements of natural and designed whimsy found throughout the half-acre garden include a bamboo tunnel, a participatory human sundial, a secret garden with magical "rooms" to discover, a maze of herbs, a hydroponic garden where the kids can learn about the relationship between plants and water, and a design area where children are encouraged to create their own garden designs by raking patterns and arranging plants. Other garden activities for the kids include planting, potting, tying, staking, watering, composting and worm-digging. The center for the garden's activities is the renovated Lath House, an historic structure.
  • Longue Vue is an eight-acre city estate that was the home of New Orleans philanthropists Edgar Bloom Stern, a cotton broker, and his wife Edith Rosenwald Stern, daughter of Sears entrepreneur Julius Rosenwald. The Classical Revival mansion was built between 1939 and 1942. Extensive gardens surround and complement the estate.

    Longue Vue is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children. Call (504) 488-5488.

  • The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is presenting Degas and New Orleans: A French Impressionist in America. The exhibit, to run through Aug. 29, is being held in association with FrancoFete, the 300th anniversary of French influence in Louisiana.
  • The exhibition brings together works painted by Edgar Degas during his visit to New Orleans in 1872 and 1873. The artist's mother was born in New Orleans, and he was the only major French Impressionist to travel to the U.S. At the time of his visit, both of his brothers were in business and living with their French-Creole relatives in the city.

    The exhibition features 17 of the 22 works he is thought to have executed during his stay in New Orleans. Many other paintings on loan from private collections and museums throughout the world are included in the exhibition. Among them is "A Cotton House in New Orleans." The Musee des Beaux-Arts in Pau purchased the work in 1878, making it the first Impressionist painting purchased by a French museum. Objects documenting French-Creole life and Degas' Louisiana relatives are also a part of the exhibition.

    Individual tickets are on sale through TicketMaster at (800) 409-9959. Advance group tickets also can be reserved. Group reservations for 20 or more clients can be booked through NOMA on a first-come basis by calling (504) 488-2631.

    The newly renovated Sheraton New Orleans, the official host hotel for the exhibition, is offering specially themed packages for clients, available through Aug. 29. The Degas Package includes deluxe accommodations, two museum admission tickets to the exhibition per room reservation and a welcome packet of premium offers. The package is priced at $129 per night, double. The Degas Deluxe Package features accommodations on the hotel's Club Level, continental breakfast and evening hors d'oeuvres in the Club Lounge, two museum admission tickets to the exhibition per room reservation and a welcome packet of premium offers. The package is priced at $159 per night, double. For more information, call (877) 66-DEGAS.

    New Orleans: Contact Information
    The Ogden Museum of Southern Art: (504) 539-6900.
    Evergreen Plantation: (504) 592-0560.
    Harrah's New Orleans Casino: (504) 533-6000.
    The National D-Day Museum: (504) 527-6012.
    Jazzland: (504) 586-8305.
    ArtWorks: (504) 523-1465.
    Lucy C. Roussel Discovery Garden: (504) 488-5488.
    The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA): Individual tickets are on sale through
    TicketMaster at (800) 409-9959; Group reservations for 20 or more clients
    can be booked through NOMA on a first-come basis by calling (504) 488-2631;
    For more information, call (877) 66-DEGAS.
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