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Where Y'Art at NOMA

New Orleans is a city of traditions. Join a second line parade on Sundays, eat red beans and rice on Mondays, dance to Rebirth Brass Band uptown on Tuesdays, catch Irvin Mayfield in his downtown jazz club on Wednesdays, and on Thursdays, count on Kermit Ruffins in the Bywater.

Now the New Orleans Museum of Art is starting what it hopes will become a Friday night tradition, with a new event called Where Y’Art. Every Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., NOMA offers live music, family art-making activities, and such museum-related events as film screenings, lectures, artist demonstrations and exhibit walk-throughs. (Tonight there will be a walk-through of the museum's contemporary art.)

Initially conceived as a night that would attract young professionals, Where Y’Art has drawn a wider audience, too – couples, families, art lovers and music fans.

“We are presenting art while stimulating the senses with music, food, and drink, giving the opportunity for the viewer to unwind and take it in,” said Rebecca Thomason, Public Programs Coordinator. “We are using Where Y'Art as a way to show people that museums are not mausoleums – they are a vibrant part of our community.”

Friday evening programming runs the gamut, but there is often a theme for the night that is tied in to NOMA’s special exhibitions and permanent collection.

“The music is a big draw for me and the selections are as diverse as the art here,” said Dave Melerine of Powdered Sugar Presents. “Jazz duos, blues trios, African singers, Japanese Taiko drumming, Latin guitar – there’s something each Friday for everyone.”

Ralph Brennan’s Courtyard Café stays open for dinner during Where Y’Art, and also offers cheese selections from St. James Cheese Company. The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is also open late on Fridays, until 8:45 p.m. Warm weather will bring programming outside; look for Shakespeare in the Garden and outdoor film screenings.

“It really is a great way to get to know like-minded people and start off an evening,” said Pamela Buckman, Sculpture Garden Manager. “You can come to NOMA early and still attend nighttime theater and music shows.”

True. After checking out Where Y’Art, you’ll still have time to catch jazz piano legend Ellis Marsalis for his late set at Snug Harbor on Frenchmen Street … where he plays, most every Friday night.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]