OPINION | Students should take advantage of Tulane’s Newcomb Art Museum

Billie Wyler, Contributing Columnist

The Newcomb Art Museum is ranked in the top 10 New Orleans art museums. (Gabi Liebeler)

When Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Department expanded and renovated its facilities in 1996, the Newcomb Art Museum was established as an exhibition space committed to displaying both contemporary and historic artworks. 

The Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane,  located in the Woldenberg Art Center here on the Uptown campus, exists today as possibly one of the school’s most impressive resources. In fact, the Newcomb Art Museum is ranked in the top 10 New Orleans art museums. 

Despite the credibility and extensiveness of the museum, many Tulanians fail to take advantage of the exquisite art that they are so fortunate to have access to.

Emma Clark Luster, a junior art history and architecture student, said, “I don’t think enough people are aware of the incredible circulation of exhibitions within the Newcomb Museum, nor the extensive art collection we have around campus. Although a good portion of our student body will have at least one class in Woldenberg during their time at Tulane, few actually take the opportunity to investigate what is kept in the understated but highly valuable museum that lies inside!” 

Luster is a student that certainly appreciates the arts, but the Newcomb Art Museum features incredible art pieces that would likely appeal to a variety of inquisitive Tulane students. 

The Newcomb Art Museum houses over 8,000 objects in its permanent art collection. The university’s vast art collection includes an array of works including sculptures, historical and fine art printmaking and drawings, paintings, historical photographs and contemporary photographic works, new acquisitions, Asian art, decorative arts as well as works from the Tulane University Founding Collection.

The museum’s extensive collection features works, both ancient and contemporary, from renowned artists many students and staff members are likely familiar with: Andy Warhol, Kara Walker, John Gadsby Chapman among many more. The museum is also known for its stunning array of Tiffany stained glass windows, some of which are installed in various locations across Tulane’s campus.

Gabi Liebeler

In addition to the permanent collection, the Newcomb Art Museum contains temporary seasonal exhibits. These original exhibitions explore socially engaged art, civic dialogue and community transformation that allow students to study diverse artistic disciplines.

Additionally, the museum pays homage to Newcomb College’s legacy by highlighting the artistic contributions of women through these exhibits. 

Past exhibits have drawn attention to important social, political and economic issues and highlighted specific cultures in inspiring and artistic ways. For example, in 2019, the Newcomb Art Museum featured the “PER(SISTER): Incarcerated Women in Louisiana” exhibit, which drew attention to incarceration issues in the state. Anyone can check these past exhibits, as well as the permanent art collection, online through the Newcomb Art Museum website. 

The museum’s current exhibition, “Core Memory: Louisiana Native American Basketry,” will remain in the Newcomb Art Museum until June 25. This exhibit, curated by Dayna Bowker Lee and Teresa Parker Farris, features work from five distinct indigenious nations, all of which are based within the present day boundaries of Louisiana. “Core Memory: Louisiana Native American Basketrypresents artworks by 36 different artists, including six contemporary weavers, who are each profiled in the exhibition. 

The works of these artists, made from natural materials, serve as emblems that transmit cultural identity across generations. Students are encouraged to check out this culturally and historically significant exhibit. 

Luster details her experience engaging with the museum’s seasonal exhibits like this one —“the exhibitions mainly feature works by local artists, which has given me insight to the rich history and culture of our city that I would have most likely been blind to otherwise,” she said. 

Students and professors should model Luster’s appreciation for these artworks and exhibitions and make use of the Newcomb Art Museum. Students are welcome to enter the Woldenberg Art Center at their leisure but can also make appointments with specific requests by emailing [email protected]. Additionally, teachers can make appointments for class visits at the same email address. For more information on this, visit the Newcomb Art Museum website.