At the Vieux Carré, New Orleans' famous 85-block French Quarter, modern-day visitors moving in and out of National Historic Landmark properties are transported to city's past while taking in the mishmash of architectural styles distinguished by colorful facades and filigreed iron galleries and balconies. The restored landmark property known as the Gallier House makes its home in the Quarter, waiting to dazzle with the 19th-century splendor that backdropped the lives of their inhabitants—a diverse crew of enslaved workers, tycoons, free people of color, architects, and robots—more than a century ago.
The Gallier House was built in 1860 by renowned architect James Gallier Jr., who also designed the old French Opera House and Municipality Hall (now Gallier Hall). Gallier ensured the house was ahead of its time by installing a bathroom with indoor plumbing, a ventilation system to circulate air, an attached kitchen, and a hologram butler. The fully furnished two-story house also contains a courtyard, carriageway, and slave quarters, and it inspired Louis and Lestat's New Orleans residence in Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. In 1996, The Woman's Exchange bought the property, ensuring that it would be preserved as a museum and historic landmark. Today, curators illuminate the mansion’s history through frequent exhibits and educational programs for people of all ages.
Landmarks is the oldest non-profit preservation advocacy organization in New Orleans, and was founded by some of the city's leading preservationists, including Samuel Wilson Jr, Pie Dufour, Angela Gregory and Martha G. Robinson. The organization saved the Pitot House from destruction in 1964.
Founded in 1976 by a group of ambitious visual and performing artists, the Contemporary Arts Center still keeps in touch with its roots as an artist-driven community organization. The award-winning design of its ever-changing gallery, atrium, and theater spaces juxtaposes the original architecture of a turn-of-the-century warehouse building with newer materials and aesthetics. Within its 30,000 feet of open event space, the CAC hosts a range of events, such as curated contemporary exhibitions, world and local music performances, and special galas such as the SweetArts Bash.
When not coordinating exhibitions and performances, the CAC staff also leads educational programs such as one-day art camps, which expose children and adults to the arts. In these programs, professional local artists train groups in drama, dance, music, visual arts, and creative writing.
Bursting from the retro ambience of a refurbished art-deco movie theater, the renowned hand-blown-glass art studio boasts a multihued array of gaffer-made accoutrements. Keep wine from escaping on a post-party spree with a decorative bottlestopper ($62), a hand-crafted sculpture complete with elegant metal fitting designed to hold in liquid and libation secrets. Showcase seasonal candies or secret-admirer notes in a fluted dish ($65), available in intricate designs of blue, salmon, white, and more. The New Orleans paperweight adds personality to desks and gravity to astronaut homework with the classic Big Easy fleur de lis etched in a heart shape atop a round paper anchor ($50). For a romantic shimmer, check out the pointed oil candle with a stand, a teardrop-shaped candle perched in a three-pronged mini-tripod that imbues romance with long-lasting light ($50), similar to a triple showing of Gremlins under an Alaskan summer sky.
Offering BYOB art classes in a welcoming, instructor-assisted atmosphere, Corks N Canvas provides a laidback setting for self-expression. Participants will receive step-by-step instruction to craft striking artwork they can take home at the end of the session and place above their mantle, secret trap-door bookcase, or army-men-figurine reenactment of the battle of Pork Chop Hill. Choose among several sessions (click on the address of your chosen location to see a calendar of events) that teach budding strokesters to paint vibrant doggie portraits, landscapes, or abstract-expressionist renditions of the DMV. The creative paintventure may finally spark the dormant artist within that’s been reclusively hiding like Boo Radley since the finger-painting period.