NOMA: The Lapis Center for the Arts and The Tommy and Dathel Coleman Courtyard

This renovation for the New Orleans Museum of Art features three integrated programs: the Lapis Center for the Arts, a cultural convener for performances, screenings, and lectures, a revitalized NOMA Café, and the Tommy and Dathel Coleman Courtyard, which connects the two former spaces with a skylit atrium. In tandem, the three programming elements expand NOMA's ability to offer cultural and culinary offerings to new audiences and elevate its status ever higher as a national arts institution.


New Orleans, LA


8,350 SF

Year of Completion



Broadmoor LLC Julien Engineering and Consulting, Inc. Huseman & Associates, LLC Roland Woolworth & Associates Futch Design Associates, Incorporated Solomon Group


Architecture Interior Design



Photographer Credit

Kyle Encar

The newly renovated Lapis Center for the Arts is intended as a cultural convener for a variety of museum programming. In revitalizing the theatre for a modern audience, the design team looked to develop a flat-floored, modern space with surround sound and theatrical lighting. Designed with flexibility at top of mind, the space will be able to serve multiple capacities, from theater in the round to banquet space, lecture hall, and more. The renovation will allow for seating for up to 360 people, providing NOMA with a state-of-the-art platform for interdisciplinary arts experiences.

The space is simultaneously an exhibition. 85 plaster panels drawn from renowned New Orleans sculptor Enrique Alférez’s monumental relief “Symbols of Communication” adorn the walls.

Flanking the renovation on the opposite side is the newly revitalized Café NOMA. While the museum may privilege the visual and auditory experiences of art, the café elevates the other senses: touch, taste, and smell. In this, a unique dining experience is created for visitors, one wholly distinct, yet part of the greater museum experience. The design of Café NOMA is a visual celebration of the culinary arts, one providing museum goers and café visitors a “palette cleanser” –a moment of pause within the larger museum experience. Featuring views to the sculpture garden, the café maintains a warm, intimate atmosphere via a curated selection of furniture and built-in architectural elements that resonate with New Orleans’ food and dining culture.

As many Southern dining rooms display fine china, the Museum’s Vessel collection is prominently located within the café’s main dining space.

The Tommy and Dathel Coleman Courtyard connects the two former spaces (Cultural Center and Café) with a skylit atrium. Previously, the courtyard, while wonderful on clear spring days, often found itself vulnerable to the elements, and under-used due to the sweltering summer weather. Today a glazed canopy shelters guests from the elements, while maintaining resplendent views to the adjacent sculpture gardens and city park.

In hosting fundraising galas and other events for the museum, the space maintains the flexibility to operate as one contiguous entity.