Elizabeth Beller, The Guardian, March 18, 2014
St Claude Art District Second Saturday
Thirty-plus galleries participate in co-ordinated openings on the corridor of St Claude, just down from the French Quarter, one of the more vital underground arts scenes in the US. The event, held on the second Saturday of each month, came about after the Toxic Art Exhibit at l'art Noir New Orleans had patrons bursting the gallery's seams just two month after Hurricane Katrina. Come stroll the venues from 6pm till whenever, many with drinks provided. Highlights include Byrdie's Gallery and Coffeshop and The Barrister's Gallery, currently showing Sylvain Sancton's gorgeous post-abstract expressionist explorations.
• St Claude corridor, scadnola.com. Second Saturday of each month
Marigny Opera House
This charmingly dilapidated, non-denominational Church of the Arts, originally founded in 1847 for German Catholics of the Faubourg Marigny and designed by Theodore Giraud, was bought in 2011 by Scott King and Dave Hurlbert, who began restoring the historic building and supporting the work of New Orleans' performing artists. They host performances by the Paul Taylor Dance Company (ballet) and New Orleans Opera Association, and events such as Cinderella Soirée and local Mardi Gras Krewe dancer sneak previews, along with writers' groups and Artist's Way workshops.
• 725 St Ferdinand Street, +1 504 948 9998, marignyoperahouse.org. Check website for event information and pricing
The National WWII Museum
A treasure in the Central Business District, this museum concentrates on the contribution the United States made to the second world war – the battle of Normandy, in particular. Affiliated with The Smithsonian, it houses world-class exhibitions like The Home Front, Planning for D-Day, and an atrium housing suspended aircraft, including a Supermarine Spitfire, Messerschmitt Bf 109, and a Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber. As befitting its location in Hollywood South, a gallery dedicated to The Monuments Men, who saved innumerable works of looted art from the Nazis and are currently portrayed in the George Clooney film, is slated for 2016.
• 945 Magazine Street, nationalww2museum.org. Open daily 9am-5pm
M S Rau Antiques
A stunning gallery in the French Quarter housing museum-quality pieces ranging from French furniture and impressionist paintings to Dresden porcelain. The 30,000-sq-ft showroom is in a 100-year-old landmark building, and one could spend an afternoon gazing at its walls, which bear such delights as an original Renoir oil portrait of his son and a recently discovered painting by Norman Rockwell. Not to be missed is the newly redecorated impressionist room, complete with original works by Monet, Van Gogh and even a Gauguin.
• 630 Royal Street, rauantiques.com. Open Mon-Sat 9am-5.15pm
Alex Beard Studio
While you're strolling along Royal Street be sure to make time for the Alex Beard Studio. Beard's paintings of animals in the natural world reflect his travels in Africa and are interesting in the context of African-centric New Orleans. Influenced by both his uncle, Peter Beard, and mother, Patricia Beard, Alex's creativity derives from both nature and nurture – he spent his youth around artists such as Warhol and Capote – which echoes throughout the "Abstract Naturalism" style he has created. As with those 60s icons, versatility reigns; his murals at Sucré, the best sweet shop in Nola, grace the walls with delicate whimsy redolent of both de Brunhoff's Babar and Bemelmans' Madeline.
• 712 Royal Street, alexbeardstudio.com. Open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm
The quintessential museum of Louisiana, the permanent collection includes nearly 40,000 world-class works of regional, national and international art, such as Picasso, Braque, Dufy and Miró, and drawings by Degas, who worked just blocks from the museum when he visited maternal relatives in the early 1870s. Lectures, book clubs, film presentations, art classes and musical performances are all presented with aplomb – and you can even take yoga classes in the sublimely beautiful Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, where works of the 20th century's master sculptors reside in a sub-tropical sanctuary. Not to be missed this July are Alexis Rockman's drawings from the development of The Life of Pi, whose stunning depictions of the interaction between humans and the natural world are especially redolent in post-Katrina New Orleans.
• 1 Collins C Diboll Circle, noma.org. Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm
The Preservation Resource Centre Holiday Home Tour
New Orleans' honour of housing the largest Antebellum architecture collection is in large part thanks to the Preservation Resource Centre (PRC). The PRC celebrates its mission of promoting the preservation, restoration and revitalisation of New Orleans' historic architecture and neighbourhoods, a highlight of which is the pre-eminent Holiday Home Tour of the Garden District. The tour typically includes seven private homes, plus a non-residential "bonus house", each one fully staffed with greeters and docents, as well as volunteer musicians. View the splendour of original Italianate, Greek Revival, Colonial, Queen Anne and Victorian mansions.
• Kicks off from Trinity Church, 1329 Jackson Avenue, +1 504 581 7032, prcno.org. Takes place early December
Contemporary Arts Centre (CAC)
The CAC complex in historic downtown is a cultural leader, bridging the gap between the visual and performing arts by combining exhibitions, concerts, dance and plays. Past interactive events, such as Leverage by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, had patrons delightedly playing on what resembled a giant see-saw. Upcoming exhibitions include 30 Americans, showcasing the last three decades of art by the most influential African-American artists, and Julian Sands in A Celebration of Harold Pinter, where the actor will share and provide insight into Pinter's little-known poetry. The CAC also hosts the spectacular Whitney White Linen Night on the first Saturday in August, which offers a stroll among the galleries on Julia Street to the beat of Nola musicians while sampling world-renowned cuisine.
• 900 Camp Street, +1 504 528 3805, cacno.org. Open Wed-Mon 11am-5pm
Mahalia Jackson Theatre
Named for the beloved New Orleanean gospel singer, the jewel of Armstrong Park was decimated in Katrina and subsequently refurbished into a state-of-the-art facility. The inaugural performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Messa di Requiem established a roster a of stellar lineups, ranging from Broadway shows and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Orleans Ballet Association. Catch programmes such as Shostakovich, La Bohème and comedian Aziz Ansari this spring.
• 1419 Basin Street, +1 504 287 0350, mahaliajacksontheater.com. Check website for event information and pricing
Arthur Roger Gallery
One of the pioneers of the contemporary scene on Julia Street, the Arthur Roger Gallery inhabits an architecturally award-winning space that is itself a work of art. Showing both emerging local artists and nationally lauded veterans, the gallery is an anchor of the New Orleans art scene. It expanded in 2008 to include Arthur [email protected], dedicated to new media artist exhibits, such as digital projections and interactive video. Upcoming shows include photographic essayist Gordon Parks, cartoonist Bunny Matthews and Cuban American neo-expressionist Luis Cruz Azaceta.
• 432 Julia Street, arthurrogergallery.com. Open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm
Elizabeth Beller is a writer. who lives in New Orleans and blogs at Babble.com
• For more information on holidays in the USA, visit DiscoverAmerica.com
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk